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Power America Forward

After one of the coldest winters in the northern hemisphere for many years, and with the price of oil beginning its inexorable rise again, the wind power industry can look forward to the future with renewed confidence. It is perhaps significant that one of the many facts to emerge from the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual report is that Texas, the state that remains at the heart of the world oil business, is also the state with the greatest installed wind capacity and is home to the largest wind farms. Clearly, the Lone Star state has seen the future and is setting out towards it with its customary vigour, which is why Dallas is a logical place to hold the Windpower 2010 Conference and Exhibition (23 to 26 May).
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{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}The AWEA’s annual report also contains other facts and figures that show that the American wind power industry has come through the recession in good health and expecting great things in the future. In all, 85,000 people are employed in the industry in the USA. Furthermore, these are backed by an increasingly sophisticated educational and supply infrastructure including 205 educational programmes and over 200 component manufacturing facilities (up by 100 in 3 years). The report says that all the industry needs now for a period of rapid expansion, with all the growth in manufacturing capacity and technical know-how that implies, is a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES). One of the best ways to see how the industry is thriving would be to attend the conference in Dallas with its 1,200 exhibitors, 20,000 visitors and 60 educational sessions. The organisers have also laid on an outdoor equipment and demonstration area to show off the big, heavy equipment. See you there!

Turning to this month’s Windtech we are pleased to have articles about some of the most challenging problems facing the industry in the years to come. We have an article by Paul van Lieshout of Sinclair Knight Merz (UK) on improving the methodology for predicting the actual power output from wind farms, and a contribution from Professors Shirai and Dr Rahman of Kyoto University on how to combine wind and tidal power generating systems to produce a more reliably constant power output.

The recent coal-mine disasters in West Virginia and Shanxi make us realise that no energy producing industry is completely safe. However, the wind energy industry can rightly congratulate itself on its own safety record, while acknowledging that an industry that relies on innumerable tall towers has its own unusual risks, lightning strike being one of them. If the wind industry is to keep its reputation as a good industry to work in, as well as a safe energy source, construction and operating companies must do everything possible to secure the well-being of their workers. A timely article by Don Lieck of Telvent outlines a way in which the risks of lightning strike to wind power personnel can be minimised.

So, I end my note with this message to friends and colleagues in the industry: keep safe, keep happy and keep going.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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