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North America’s Biggest Wind Energy Event Ever

ImageWindpower 2005 was held in Denver, Colorado, from 15 to 18 May. This year’s event was the biggest conference and exhibition ever. More than 235 companies were showing their products and services in the exhibition hall. The number of attendees exceeded 4,000. This show is clearly the most important gathering for professionals active in the wind energy business.

By Floris Siteur, Publisher, Windtech International
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{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}The year 2005 is expected to be a record year for the North American wind energy industry. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), US$ 3 billion of equipment will be installed across the USA this year. Last October the US Congress extended the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) until the end of 2005, and this has probably helped. The AWEA is still striving for a multi-year extension of the current PTC to avoid a downturn in the industry as happened in 2004. Although tax credits such as the PTC are beneficial for the industry in the short term, eventually the industry should be able to operate without governmental support to become a fully grown energy sector.

Exhibition
ImageNew exhibitors at this year’s conference included Siemens, which purchased Bonus Wind Energy in late 2004, and Goldman Sachs, which purchased a controlling interest in Zilkha Renewable Energy earlier this year. Metso Drives was present under a different name for the first time. Metso Drives’ ownership was transferred from Metso Corporation to the funds managed by CapMan on 8 April 2005. The new company name will be Moventas, which implies movement, a basic element in mechanical power transmission. The company will present its new graphic design in June, and its new websites will be operative from the beginning of July 2005.

Because large-scale turbines are becoming bigger and bigger, there is a need for bigger towers as well. Since the price of steel continues to increase on the world market, developers and manufacturers are looking for other materials for manufacturing tall towers. One of these manufacturers is Wind Tower Composites. The company developed space frame towers to support large wind turbines. These comprise segments of lightweight composite tubes assembled into a 3D matrix. For aesthetics, the frame is covered overall with a thin composite sheathing to achieve the look of a steel tube tower.

ImageAnother manufacturer is Valmont Wind Energy, which has developed towers based on a new concept. The new modular Multi-Petal Tower (MPT) design is a solution for the increasing size of turbines. The design is a conventional tapered, non-welded tower and has been certified by Germanische Lloyd. The current height of the tower is 65 metres but in the near future the company will be introducing a 80 metre tower and it has plans for towers up to 100 and 120 metres in height. Other future plans are to make the MPT into a self-erection tower.

Part of the exhibition floor was occupied by small-scale turbine manufacturers. This section of the industry is becoming bigger and in future issues we will certainly pay attention to technological developments of small-scale wind energy.

Global Wind Energy Council
Wind energy is a global industry, and the conference marked the US launch of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). GWEC brings together the wind industry and its representative associations and global companies to call for stronger national and international policies to support the expansion of wind energy. GWEC members operate in more than 50 countries and represent over 1,500 organisations involved in hardware manufacture, project development, power generation, finance and consultancy, as well as researchers and academics. Such an organisation will be helpful for further globalisation of the industry.

Conference
The conference programme covered the latest policy developments, business topics and technologies in the wind energy industry. Each day there were a series of educational sessions organised into four main topic areas: ‘Policy’, ‘Business’, ‘Technical’ and ‘Utility’. The track dedicated to utility issues and their relationship to wind energy projects was new this year. Also, for the first time the conference CD-ROM has been enhanced to include audio-recording, and some video-recording of sessions synchronised with the PowerPoint presentations. Full conference registrants will receive a complimentary CD-ROM of the session track of their choice (Business, Policy, Technical or Utility). Additional session track CD-ROMs are available for purchase through AWEA’s website. The CD-ROM containing all tracks costs $850.00 for non-members and $650.00 for members.

Next Year’s Gathering
The AWEA conference is an annual event. Next year Windpower 2006 will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 4 till 7 June. The organisation expects at least the same number of exhibitors and attendees for the show. More information can be found on www.awea.org/wp06.html.{/access}
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