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UK Ministry of Defence lifts objections to wind energy projects

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) has welcomed an agreement that has seen the Ministry of Defence (MOD) lift its objections to a number of wind energy projects in southern Scotland. Following discussions between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), MOD and Scottish Executive, a solution has been found to concerns that wind farms planned near the Eskdalemuir seismic array could interfere with the array’s role in monitoring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This has resulted in the MOD lifting its objections to wind farm applications within an 80km ‘exclusion zone’ put in place around the array in February 2004. All applications must still go through the normal planning and consent process. The BWEA, DTI and MOD established a working group and commissioned Keele University to undertake a detailed analysis of any impacts on the array from planned turbines. The results confirmed that beyond 17.5km from the array, wind developments will not adversely affect the function of this internationally important monitoring station.

US energy bill extends wind power incentive through 2007

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) hailed the extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) included in the wide-ranging energy bill that Congress has recently adopted and President Bush is soon expected to sign into law. The PTC, which was scheduled to expire on 31 December  2005, provides a 1.9 cent-per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated with wind turbines over the first ten years of a project’s operations, and is a critical factor in financing new wind farms. This is the first time that an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy has been approved before the credit expires, and follows the past six years of boom-and-bust cycles caused by successive expirations. Up to 2,500MW of wind energy capacity are scheduled to come on-line in the USA during 2005. With the timely extension of the PTC, the AWEA anticipates that strong growth momentum will continue in 2006 and 2007. The bill does not contain restrictions on the availability of the PTC or place limits on offshore wind projects, as some anti-wind lawmakers had proposed.

Wind has become a mainstream energy source

The Spanish wind power industry is doing well. From just over 200MW in 1997, the Spanish market has been steadily growing at annual rates of more than 30%. Last year Spain reached a record level of 2,065MW installed, a 33% increase on 2003, taking the total to 8,263MW. As a result of its continued success, the previous government target of 13,000MW installed wind capacity in 2010 has been updated to 20,000MW in 2011. The government’s new target would see wind energy supplying 15% of national electricity consumption, up from 6.5% today. Wind energy in Spain has now entered a dynamic phase where the serious challenges that arise when wind energy becomes one of the main energy supply technologies need to be met. Current policy direction signals how an intermittent power source can be integrated into the electricity market in significant quantities. Predictability is the key to address intermittency at large penetration levels. To move towards 15% of the country’s power from wind energy will require a strategic grid framework. This is currently being developed in partnership with the transmission operators, utilities, wind players and regional governments. More than 500 companies are now involved in the Spanish wind energy sector, with about 150 factories manufacturing turbines and their components across the Spanish regions. Including those indirectly employed in supplying components and services, the total number of jobs supported by Spain’s wind industry has reached more than 30,000. This is estimated to double to 60,000 by 2010 on reaching the new target.

2005 already a record year for Canada

Already in 2005 Canada’s wind energy industry has broken its annual growth record and it is set to shatter it before the year is out. As of June 2005, Canada had installed 126MW of new wind energy capacity, breaking the existing record of 122MW established in 2004. Almost 200MW of additional new wind energy capacity is expected to be installed in Canada before the end of 2005. Canada currently has 570MW of installed wind energy capacity, enough to power more than 200,000 homes. ‘With Canada’s installed wind energy capacity expected to grow by close to 70% this year, 2005 will be remembered as the start of Canada’s wind energy boom,’ says Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

Wind energy companies hope for support

The companies active in wind energy believe that further support will be necessary for the wind energy industry in the event of a change in government in Germany expected in the autumn election, according to a survey commissioned by WindEnergy (International Trade Fair Hamburg Messe). A total of 84.4% of the respondents, who are decision-makers in their companies, are hoping for measures for promotion and further development of this innovative industry. Right at the top of their wish list is accelerated expansion of the offshore sector, and a generally less bureaucratic and thus faster approvals procedure for wind farms. Participants in the survey were 45 wind energy companies in Germany, most of them manufacturers, equipment suppliers and project developers. The Trend Survey also showed that the companies in the wind industry are well placed to cope with political change in Germany – nearly 90% of the companies responding are mainly active in the international market and are therefore not exclusively dependent on the political and economic framework conditions in their home market.

Wind development in Sweden grows by 10MW

Swedish bearing and seal manufacturer SKF has partnered with energy company Falkenbergs Utvecklings to start a wind energy development centre for R&D, knowledge development, and testing and training activities at Lovstaviken in Falkenberg. Together, the companies are establishing the very first centre for renewable energy in Sweden, said Stefan Karlsson, head of Global Renewable Energy Segments at SKF.

The wind park will be owned by the city of Falkenberg and operated by Falkenberg Energi. SKF will, in close cooperation with the manufacturers of the wind turbines, contribute with testing programmes and equipment, measuring devices and technical competencies to evaluate the different parameters in the application. The park, which should begin operations in 2006, will consist of five 2MW turbines.

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