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Windpower 2010 in the Lone Star State

The AWEA’s annual report, released in April, contains 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. That the US market is doing better was also noticeable at AWEA’s annual event Windpower 2010, held from 23 to 26 May in Dallas, Texas.

{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}The event was attended by about 20,000 people including a broad range of industry leaders and had nearly 1,400 companies exhibiting the latest in wind power technology over an area the size of six football fields. The conference programme featured 60 educational sessions on a variety of technical, marketing, scientific, legal, financial, policy and other topics.

One of the highlights was the keynote speech by former President George W. Bush. President Bush shared Texas’s recipe for wind energy success, including new transmission, a competitive electricity market, and reasonable taxes and permitting. He noted that when we diversify our energy supply, we create jobs. Bush stressed that technology drives change and that the government should encourage technological development, but also that to develop new technology wealth is needed so we should be patient in this transitory period. It’s expensive to risk capital on new research and development. As he stated, the US is going to need its economy to grow to afford new technologies.

To me it seemed that the economy in the US is doing better compared to a year ago. At the event in Chicago in 2009 there were more attendees coming from other industries trying to get business from the exhibitors due to the economic downturn in their original industry. Most exhibitors I spoke to said that their order backlog is (slowly) growing as well, and they are confident about the future.

This confidence is also supported by the annual report released by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA). In 2009 worldwide capacity reached 159,213MW, out of which 38,312MW were added in 2009. Wind power showed a growth rate of 31.7%, the highest rate since 2001, and the trend continued that wind capacity doubles every three years. Currently the wind sector employs 550,000 persons worldwide. In the year 2012, the wind industry is expected for the first time to offer 1 million jobs. Based on accelerated development and further improved policies, WWEA has increased its predictions and sees a global capacity of 1,900,000MW as possible by the year 2020.

In this issue we also have articles stressing that new development is necessary for growth. Lueder von Bremen (page 6) writes that the central insight is that wind, solar, pan-European transmission and storage form an interdependent system. This system has to be optimised according to the specific costs of each of these technologies. Like other industry leaders he argues for a European Supergrid.

In 2007 the DANAERO MW experiment was initiated because scientists and wind turbine designers in Denmark realised that more knowledge about the aerodynamics for megawatt wind turbines was required to further optimise the design of these wind turbines. The project was finalised at the end of 2009 and some results can be found on page 23.

On page 28 Ben Marrant from Hansen Transmissions explains that increasing the reliability of drive trains for wind turbines of an ever-increasing size requires dedicated simulation models that can provide more insight into the internal gearbox dynamics at the early stages of the design process. Therefore, Hansen Transmissions chose to develop detailed multibody models of wind turbine gearboxes.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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