Commercial Scale

Unprecedented Growth of U.S. and Global Wind Energy

But Will the Growth Continue?

United States wind power capacity increased by over 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2009, 20% more than was added in 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). That brings total U.S. capacity to over 35 GW, more than any other country on the planet, providing 1.8% of our national electric power. Similarly, the demand for small wind systems for residential and small business use (rated capacity of 100 kW or less) grew 15% in 2009, adding 20 MW of generating capacity to the nation.

“Even in the face of a global recession and financial crisis, wind energy continues to be the technology of choice in many countries around the world.”

—Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General

This is impressive as the largest single annual gain in U.S. wind energy capacity, but our nation still lags behind the pace of other countries in renewable energy expansion. Global wind power capacity increased by over 38 GW in 2009, an increase of 41% over 2008 according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

“Even in the face of a global recession and financial crisis, wind energy continues to be the technology of choice in many countries around the world,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. “Wind power is clean, reliable and quick to install, so it is the most attractive solution for improving supply security, reducing CO2 emissions, and creating thousands of jobs in the process. All of these qualities are of key importance, even more so in times of economic uncertainty.”

China demonstrated a major commitment to renewable energy growth at a breathtaking pace, more than doubling it's wind capacity in 2009. According to the GWEC, China accounted for one third of the total annual wind capacity additions with 13.8 GW of new wind farms in 2009. This took China's total capacity up to 25.9 GW, narrowly overtaking Germany as the country with the second largest wind power capacity behind the U.S. The Chinese government has an unofficial target of 150 GW of wind capacity by 2020, and with the current growth rates, that ambitious target could be met well ahead of time.

Economic uncertainty was a major challenge in 2009, and the U.S. responded to the challenge through new leadership in both the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy, bringing new policies and incentives to the forefront for renewable energy development, including the extension and expansion of tax incentives along with stimulus dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But will this be enough to foster continued growth?

The forecast for U.S. wind capacity growth in coming years is not so clear. GWEC expects that the global installed wind capacity will reach 409 GW by 2014, growing by an average annual rate of 21%. Asia is expected to outpace both Europe and North America, with the U.S. and Canada as possible laggards in 2010 and 2011 due to legislative uncertainty.

“Our annual report documents an industry hard at work and on the verge of explosive growth if the right policies—including a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)—are put in place,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “A national RES will provide the long-term certainty that businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in new installations and manufacturing facilities which would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs.”

“Our annual report documents an industry hard at work and on the verge of explosive growth if the right policies—including a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)—are put in place,”

—Denise Bode, AWEA CEO

Clean energy and economic renewal are necessary partners for a sustainable future. It's time for U.S. policy-makers to determine how to make that more of a priority for our country. Many claim that Feed-In Tariff (FIT) policies, which have driven European renewable energy expansion with guaranteed grid access along with set prices on long-term contracts, just won't work in the U.S. However, the United States and Canada are the only major countries that don't even have federal policies for RES targets, which would drive incentives forward without the tight regulation of FIT. A patchwork of state-by-state (or province-by-province) RES targets doesn't present a clear national priority, and without that—clean energy expansion will lag along with the employment, environmental, and community benefits that come with it.

Massachusetts Community-Scale Wind Initiative Funding

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's (MassCEC) Community-Scale Wind Initiative awards grants for qualifying wind projects with a nameplate capacity greater than or equal to 100 kilowatts (kW.) A project is eligible for funding if it is located at a commercial, industrial, institutional, or public site, and if the electric system will be served by a Massachusetts investor-owned electric utility company or a Municipal Light Plant Department that pays into the Renewable Energy Trust Fund. MassCEC will provide financial and technical support to wind projects through the different development stages.

MassCEC offers support for three stages of the Community Scale development process: 1) services for high level site assessment, available for public projects only (please submit a Public Wind Site Assessment Application); 2) feasibility study grant support for in-depth technical and economic feasibility analyses; and 3) grants for design and construction support. 

Applications for Block 3 of Community-Scale Wind are due on May 4, 2010. Block 3 is projected to have $2 million available for grant funding. The Block 3 awards will be granted based on a competitive selection process.

Community Renewable Energy Deployment Projects Funded by DOE

Washington, DC, January 21, 2010 - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the selection of five projects to receive more than $20.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support deployment of community-based renewable energy projects, such as biomass, wind and solar installations. These projects will promote investment in clean energy infrastructure that will create jobs, help communities provide long-term renewable energy and save consumers money. They will also serve as models for other local governments, campuses or small utilities to replicate, allowing other communities to design projects that fit their individual size and energy demands.

"Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio."

—Steven Chu, U.S. Dept.
of Energy Secretary

“Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio,” said Secretary Chu. “These projects will help create jobs, expand our clean energy economy, and help us cut carbon pollution at the local level.”

The selected projects will be leveraged with approximately $167 million in local government and private industry funding. DOE estimates that these projects will provide enough clean, renewable energy to displace the emissions of approximately 10,700 homes.

Projects selected for awards include:

City of Montpelier (Montpelier, VT)
This project will further Montpelier's energy goals by supporting installation of a 41 MMBtu combined heat and power district energy system fueled with locally-sourced renewable and sustainably-harvested wood chips. The CHP system will be sized to provide heating to the Vermont Capitol Complex, city owned schools, the City Hall Complex, and up to 156 buildings in the community's designated downtown district for a total of 176 buildings and 1.8 million square feet served. By providing 1.8 million KWh of power to the grid, the system will maximize its operating efficiency and reduce thermal costs for users in the community. Montpelier will conduct outreach to encourage replication regionally and nationally through its project partners, the Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Veolia Energy North America. DOE share: $8,000,000 

Forest County Potawatomi Tribe (Forest County, WI)
The Forest County Potowatomi Tribe proposes to implement an integrated renewable energy deployment plan that will provide heating, cooling and electricity for the Tribe's governmental buildings, displacing natural gas and propane. The renewable energy installations will include: a 1.25 MW biomass combined heat and power facility that will provide heating, cooling and electricity; a biogas digester and 150 kW generation facility; three 100 kW wind turbines (788,400 kWh/year); and three dual-axis 2.88 kW solar PV panels (14,000 kWh/yr) located at the Tribe's Governmental Center. DOE share: $2,500,000

Phillips County (Holyoke, CO)
This project proposes a community-owned 30 MW wind energy project with an ultimate goal to build a 650MW wind farm within Sedgwick, Phillips, and Logan counties in Northeastern Colorado. This project will impact the local economy by sharing the project's revenues with local landowners and other project participants, by generating local jobs, substantial property taxes, and providing clean renewable energy for the area's primary communities. Plans for sharing this ownership model are part of the business plan and will be coordinated with DOE to increase national delivery of the message. DOE share: $2,500,000

 Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) (Sacramento, CA)
SMUD will install the state's first-ever ‘Solar Highway', which will feature three PV system installations on 2 miles of highway right-of-ways (300kW of concentrating PV, and 400 and 800 kW of flat plate PV distributed at 2 sites), with total capacity of 1.5 MW. SMUD will also install a full scale co-digestion process of fats, oil and grease (FOG) and liquid food processing waste with sewage to produce biogas with estimated power recovery of 1 - 3 MW, and install two low-NOx anaerobic digesters fed by two dairy facilities that will produce 500 kW of combined heat and power, and generate 600 kW of electricity through a molten carbonate fuel cell. The projects will demonstrate that solar PV and anaerobic digesters can be readily implemented through collaborative partnerships, and avoid siting issues and transmission constraints that pose barriers to renewable energy capacity additions. SMUD will partner with the State of California (CEC, CalTrans, and CARB) and DOE to promote replication of their approaches, technologies and implementation strategies statewide and nationally. DOE share: $5,000,000

University of California at Davis (Davis, CA)
UC Davis' proposed Waste-to-Renewable Energy (WTRE) system is one component of a campus oriented mixed housing and commercial development venture. The system would generate power from a renewable biogas fed fuel cell. The organic waste will enter a receiving station in which it can be collected and prepared for digestion. Once the appropriate mix has been created in buffer tanks, the waste will flow to the reactor where methanogenic bacteria will generate methane and carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, etc. These gases will flow to the Bio-methane Upgrade System for hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide removal, so that cleanup is to a level appropriate for use in a fuel cell system, and the cleaned gas is stored. Housed alongside the WTRE system within the Community Energy Park will be an advanced storage battery and a 300kW fuel cell that will be fueled by the on-site biogas and provides electric power to West Village end-users. DOE share: $2,500,000 

Stimulus Incentives Benefit Community Wind

A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals how the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) and cash grant equivalent have increased benefits for the development of Community Wind projects. “Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and Treasury Cash Grant Provide To Community Wind Projects” analyzes the impact of new federal policies for wind farm investment incentives introduced this year as part of the U.S. economic stimulus program.

Historically, the production tax credit (PTC) has been the primary incentive for wind farm development, but the PTC requires passive income that only certain equity investors can leverage. The ITC and cash grant equivalent now available to qualified projects have reshaped the financial landscape for renewable energy development by lowering the hurdles for investors to obtain tax credits as well as providing cash grant equivalents for upfront capital. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included provisions that eliminated the ITC's anti-double-dipping (or "haircut") provision for subsidized energy financing.

“Many of these ancillary benefits circumvent barriers that have plagued community wind projects in the United States for years.”

-Mark Bolinger,
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Mark Bolinger, the report's author, argues that while the stimulus changes were intended for the wind energy markets in general, they have been a blessing in disguise for community wind project development in the United States.

“It stands to reason that community wind, which has had more difficulty using the PTC than has commercial wind, may benefit disproportionately from this newfound ability to choose among these federal incentives. This report confirms this hypothesis,” says Bolinger. “Just as important are a handful of ancillary benefits that accompany the 30% ITC and/or cash grant, but not the PTC. Many of these ancillary benefits—including relief from the alternative minimum tax, passive credit limitations, and certain PTC ‘haircuts’—circumvent barriers that have plagued community wind projects in the United States for years.”

The report compares two financing structures, the Strategic Investor Partnership Flip and the Cooperative LLC, finding that the “Strategic Investor Flip structure benefits significantly more from choosing the ITC over the PTC than it does from switching to the 30% cash grant. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for the Cooperative LLC structure, which does not benefit much from selecting the ITC over the PTC, but realizes a tremendous amount of value by choosing the 30% cash grant over the ITC.”

This report, “Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and Treasury Cash Grant Provide To Community Wind Projects,” and others are available at the Electricity Markets and Policy Renewable Energy Publications section of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory web site.

Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of Windustry, served as a draft reviewer for this report.

Study Finds No Impact of Wind Projects on Property Values

A new study answers a long-nagging question of whether property values will decline due to nearby wind energy development. The answer is no, according to a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: "The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis."

"Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,"

—Ben Hoen, report author
A overwhelming majority of Americans support wind farm projects over other types of new power sources that might be built in their community [U.S. Saint Index© survey]. However, concerns over property values can arise when residents learn of plans for nearby wind farm projects. While such concerns are not unreasonable, given property value effects that have been found near high voltage transmission lines, landfills, and other electric generation facilities; the impacts of wind energy facilities on nearby home sales had not previously been investigated thoroughly.

"Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes," says report author Ben Hoen, a consultant to Berkeley Lab. "No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back - no evidence of widespread impacts." 

The report concludes that there are no measurable impacts on residential property values due to the three characterizations studied:

  • Area Stigma: A concern that the general area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed, which may adversely affect home values in the local community regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines.
  • Scenic Vista Stigma: A concern that a home may be devalued because of the view of a wind energy facility, and the potential impact of that view on an otherwise scenic vista.
  • Nuisance Stigma: A concern that factors that may occur in close proximity to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have a unique adverse influence on home values.

The team of researchers for the project collected data on almost 7,500 sales of single-family homes situated within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different U.S. states, and that occurred between 1996 and 2007; the closest home was 800 feet from a wind facility. The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic pricing models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models.  The hedonic pricing model is one of the most prominent and reliable methods for identifying the marginal impacts of different housing and community characteristics on residential property values.

The final report can be downloaded:
http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html
    
A presentation summarizing key findings is available:
http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/emp-ppt.html

New Community Wind Financing Handbook

The Environmental Law & Policy Center has published an updated version of the Community Wind Financing Handbook. This guide reflects new financing opportunities available from federal energy and economic stimulus legislation, the new Farm Bill, and state incentives.

Community Wind Financing Handbook

Since ELPC published the first edition of the Community Wind Financing Guide in 2004, wind power has become the United States' fastest-growing source of electricity. Community wind projects, which represent a small but growing share of the wind market, are largely owned by farmers and other local investors with a significant economic stake in the project. Such local ownership generates powerful economic and social benefits for rural areas.

The updated Handbook provides the latest information on financing community wind projects, including ownership structures, roles of financial intermediaries, sources of federal and state financial support and consultant/developer directories. Although building these projects has become somewhat easier over time, understanding and accessing financing opportunities remains perhaps the most important requirement for a successful project.

The Handbook can be downloaded at no cost on the ELPC web site from the link below.

IREC Releases 2009 Interconnection and Net Metering Guides

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has just released the 2009 updates for its highly respected and influential rules and procedures for interconnecting and net metering distributed generation.

Many of the model procedures that regulators and utilities look to in developing local standards have not been updated in the past three years. Since that time, there has been significant market growth for renewable distributed generation. To facilitate that growth, many states have adopted net metering and interconnection policies and many others have revisited and expanded their existing policies to incorporate lessons learned from facilitating increased penetrations of distributed generation.

IREC has been a participant in more than thirty state utility commission rulemakings regarding interconnection and net metering of distributed generation. IREC's model rule updates capture these evolved best practices and compile them into a template regulators and utilities can use as a starting point when drafting local rules.

Important advances in interconnection procedures include:

  • clarifying that third party ownership of facilities is permissible;
  • raising the size eligibility for the simplest installations from 10 kilowatts to 25 kilowatts;
  • allowing online applications;
  • addressing state-jurisdictional facilities over ten megawatts; and
  • updating provisions related to network interconnections.

Important advances in net metering rules include:

  • increase in the size of systems eligible for net metering;
  • expansion of program capacity caps;
  • meter aggregation; and
  • accommodation of third-party ownership of net metered systems.

Both guides may be downloaded from IREC in the links below.
Model Interconnection Procedures 2009
Net Metering Model Rules 2009

Landowner Associations Can Help Market South Dakota Wind

"You'll find that a lot of wind-energy developers are reluctant to come to South Dakota because they don't know anyone and they don't know about our resources," says Steve Wegman of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association

in the article "Landowners advised: Consider wind-energy development" in the Madison Daily Leader.

"Landowner associations help undeveloped areas get noticed. It's an opportunity for them to get their flag up in the air," says Wegman, who explains that landowners can invite utilities and developers to consider their wind resources by organizing together.

Get more information about the South Dakota Wind Energy Association.

Get more information about landowner associations.

Second Round of Clean Energy Awards Announced by Treasury

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Treasury Department has announced the second round of awards for cash assistance to energy producers in place of tax credits. This provides provides an additional $550 million, bringing the total to more than $1 billion awarded to dateto companies committed to investing in domestic renewable energyproduction.

“This Recovery Act program is an example of a true federal partnership with the private sector,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “Not only are our Recovery dollars meeting an immediate funding need among innovative companies, they are also jumpstarting private sector investment in communities across the country, with benefits for the renewable energy industry and our economy alike.” 

Created under Section 1603 of the Recovery Act, the program provides cash assistance to energy producers in place of tax credits. The payments improve project viability, enabling companies to create and retain jobs, and establish sufficient financing bases for projects that may otherwise not be possible, dramatically expanding and accelerating the development of renewable energy projects throughout the country. Under this program, the federal government provides a cash payment in lieu of a tax credit totaling 30 percent of the qualifying cost of the project; for each federal dollar spent in payments, more than two dollars are spent in private sector investments. 

The following 25 projects were funded in this announcement.

STATE

PROJECT

LOCATION

AMOUNT

CA

Bob's Big Boy LLC

Burbank, CA

$53,648

CA

Ameresco Half Moon Bay LLC

Half Moon Bay, CA

$6,641,747

CA

Ameresco Keller Canyon LLC

Pittsburgh, CA

$2,796,377

CA

BioFuel Oasis Cooperative, Inc

Berkely, CA

$16,858

CO

5135 Company

Denver, CO

$23,130

FL

Conditioned Air Corporation of Naples

Naples, FL

$50,250

HI

Two Daughters

Kihei, HI

$15,150

IA

Barton Wind Farm

Kinsett, IA

$93,419,883

MN

BI

Minneapolis, MN

$25,649

MN

Spruce Tree Centre

St. Paul, MN

$107,764

MO

Farmers City Wind Farm

Tarkio, MO

$84,959,857

MO

Ameresco Jefferson City LLC

Jefferson City, MO

$2,300,244

NC

Solar Billboard Property

Bolivia, NC

$5,850

NJ

Meadowlands Exposition Center

Secaucus, NJ

$767,937

NJ

EHT Leasing LLC

Egg Harbor Township

$118,560

NJ

OC Kearny

Kearny, NJ

$992,006

NV

Enel Salt Wells, LLC

Fallon, NV

$21,196,478

NV

Enel Stillwater, LLC

Fallon, NV

$40,324,394

NY

OP 110 E. 59th St. CHP

New York, NY

$415,774

SD

Impervious Energy Systems, LLC

Whitewood, SD

$31,511

TX

Barton Chapel Wind Farm

Jacksboro, TX

$72,573,627

TX

Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, Inc.

Santa Rosa, TX

$10,232,261

TX

Bull Creek Wind LLC

O'Donnell, TX

$91,390,497

TX

Pyron Wind Farm, LLC

Roscoe, TX

$121,903,306

VT

Wheeler Brook Apartments

Warren, VT

$19,155

 

 

 

$550,381,913

Minnesota Transmisson Study Suggests Grid Upgrades for Renewable Energy

A new study released by the Minnesota Office of Energy Security shows that the state's power grid could accomodate 600 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity by making upgrades to electric transmission systems. A previous study had shown that another 600 MW could be added to the existing tranmission grid without impacting it's performance.

"Dispersed Renewable Generation Transmission Study Phase II" completes a two-part study chartered by the Minnesota legislature as part of the Minnesota NextGen Energy Act passed in 2007. The act calls for 25 percent of the total energy used in the state to be derived from renewable energy resources by the year 2025. In order to meet that goal, dispersed generation of the grid would allow many distributed power generators, such as wind farms, to add significant energy capacity to the system. Together, the combined studies created complex computer models designed to add 1200 MW of dispersed capacity by the year 2013.

Phase I, completed in June 2008, identified locations in the state transmission grid where a total of 600 MW of renewable energy projects could be developed with little or no changes required to the existing grid infrastructure. Although the study noted that dispersed generation can have impacts on the electric grid, it concluded that the majority of the 600 MW could be sited without disruptions at locations in southern Minnesota. In fact, in 2008 the state added 454 MW of commercial wind power with the vast majority sited in southwestern Minnesota.

Proposed DRG Phase II Sites

Phase II of the study sought an additional 600 MW and found that there were limited locations in the state that could accommodate 10-40 MW generation projects without incurring some amount of transmission investment. So, the study team focused on sites that could potentially accommodate generation with only minor transmission investments, not the construction of new high-voltage transmission routes. The total cost of the transmission upgrades were estimated to be $121 million. In comparsion, the CapX 2020 project for constructing three new high-voltage transmission lines across the state is estimated to cost $1.7 billion.

As a result of the studies, the Minnesota Office of Energy Security concluded that achieving the renewable energy goal calls for a dual strategy of:

  • Using our existing transmission infrastructure more efficiently, through increased energy conservation and efficiency, demand response, emerging efficiency technologies and dispersed renewable generation where it can be interconnected reliably, and
  • Significantly increasing high-voltage transmission capacity in the state.

The studies and explanatory recorded webinars are available from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security on the link below.

Tom Wind (Wind Utility Consulting) acting as a consultant to Windustry served as a member of the Technical Review Committee for both studies.

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