Wind Industry Gathers at Crucial Juncture

As Europe works toward its goals of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2020 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by over 80 percent by 2050, wind energy will play an increasingly critical role, and the industry continues to set new records despite the global economic woes. However, these same woes are causing many European Member States to question the viability of renewable energy support schemes. In this climate of continued strong growth but uncertain policy future, the wind industry will gather next week for EWEA 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over 10,000 attendees are expected to visit exhibiting companies from 31 nations.

EWEA 2012’s theme of Innovating Today, Shaping Tomorrow reflects the critical issues facing the wind industry at this juncture. The conference program focuses on the dual importance of improving wind energy technologies and yields, i.e. implementing cost reductions — crucial for Western OEMs and their supply chains in the face of increasing Eastern competition — and putting favorable policy measures in place.

REW spoke with Jan Serup Hylleberg of the Danish Wind Industry Association (DWIA), chair of the conference’s Policies, Markets and Programs track, who confirmed the importance of policy support for continued industry growth. “This track is essentially a call to action,” said Hylleberg. “The most important issues facing the European wind industry today are meeting our 2020 (and post-2020) targets, and the global financial crisis. We need more political awareness of decisions that need to be made, so investors and industry can start to build the production facilities that will be required after 2020. Even though we have a debt crisis in Europe, we need the political focus to fulfill our 2020 targets. It’s crucial to focus on both the policy discussion and the infrastructure discussion in order to ensure that we do meet our targets for 2020 and beyond.”

EWEA 2012’s opening session will be attended by Danish Prime Minister and Chair of the EU’s rotating Presidency Helle Thorning Schmidt, Danish Crown Prince Frederik and European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. A panel discussion on European energy supply to 2030 will be chaired by Danish Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard, while EWEA will launch its new study on the impact of the wind industry on Europe’s economy, growth and employment. The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)’s Annual Global Market Report 2011 will also debut.

Highlighting the importance of Europe in the global wind energy market, representatives of many nations plan to attend EWEA 2012 to seek European investors and discuss opportunities for expansion. The U.S. states of Texas and Oklahoma and the state of Pernambuco in Brazil will be there, as well as the 35 companies participating in the French pavilion.

Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin says: “With more than 3,000 MW operating and under construction in the state, Oklahoma currently ranks 8th in the U.S. for existing capacity and 5th in the nation for total new capacity installed in 2011. A delegation from Oklahoma will be attending EWEA 2012 to meet with European wind energy companies to let them know about the growing business opportunities that can be found in our state.” Pernambuco’s Economic Development Agency says: “Brazil has rapidly become a key player in the wind energy world with an installed capacity of 1.3 GW and a projected expansion to reach 8 GW in 2016. A growing, strong and diversified wind industry cluster is developing in Pernambuco with the active support of the state’s government. Studies and government policies indicate that the wind sector and its supply chain will benefit from the business environment and the infrastructure projects in the state of Pernambuco.”

In non-policy highlights, the conference will also feature daily boat tours of the Middelgrunden wind farm. Co-owned by local utility Copenhagen Energy and a local cooperative with around 10,000 members, with turbines owned by DONG Energy and the cooperative, according to its website the 40-MW Middelgrunden is the most photographed wind farm in the world. It consists of a curved line of 20 turbines with 76-meter rotors and 2-MW generators. The wind farm was conceived in 1996 by a group of private individuals who worked with Copenhagen Energy and local citizens on its development, including changing the project from three lines of turbines to one in order to improve its visual impact, thereby generating wide public support.

It is also worth noting that EWEA 2012 is the first event to be labelled by WindMade as being 100 percent powered by wind. The total electricity consumed at the event will be procured exclusively by wind power.

Support for expenditure on renewables, and indeed for meeting renewable energy targets, may be waning in some parts of Europe due to the global economic crisis. As EWEA 2012’s conference program reflects, erstwhile policy support can no longer be counted on to sustain the industry in meeting these targets. But it is also apparent, in looking at the list of exhibitors, that the wind industry continues to grow — perhaps not in the ways originally envisioned by European policymakers; definitely in a more globally competitive manifestation — but still the sector is growing, and industry gatherings like EWEA 2012 are excellent lenses through which to view the industry’s, and the wider public’s, ideas of what is still working and what needs to change.

Company Announcements

Nordex will present a range of components designed to increase the efficiency and yields of its Gamma generation turbines, including an anti-icing system to prevent the accumulation of ice on rotor blades, and a 141-metre hybrid tower to increase yields in non-coastal regions.

California company Power-One will launch its Aurora Uno-2.0-I-W and Uno-2.5-I-W single phase string inverters for small residential wind turbines, designed with the needs of urban property owners in mind, and its new Aurora 25kW-Wind-Interface for small wind applications. 

Leitwind, manufacturer of gearless wind turbines, will present its new turbine generation. The LTW101, a 3 MW turbine for medium wind sites, and the LTW104 2.0 MW for medium-low wind sites, offer approximately 3.5 full load hours. 

James Walker Wind Energy will show how to complete an ‘A Test’ bolt tension check in under an hour, reduce bolt content and speed up tower construction, assure bolted joint reliability without annual checks, and eliminate blade root sealing problems.

Aluwind will present cost-cutting aluminum ideas in a poster session entitled “Aluminum is better business — why do experts keep using steel?”

Weather Central, which makes weather and forecasting systems, will be showing new products as well as their existing tools and technologies.

Autoinvent Transip AB will present its new “Belix” gearbox design, which takes advantage of the axial forces introduced in a helical gear to build its own rigidity.

Image: pianisssimo via Shutterstock

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Tildy Bayar is a journalist focusing on the energy sector. She is a former Associate Editor on and Renewable Energy World magazine.

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