Wind Energy (Especially Offshore Wind Energy) News (5 More Stories)

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Aside from the numerous wind energy stories we’ve already covered this month, here are 7 more you might be interested in:

offshore wind energy

1. Wind power hits record levels over New Year period in UK. “According to trade association RenewableUK, wind farms met an average of 5.3 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand between 1 December and 5 January, hitting a record share of 12.2 per cent on 28 December,” Business Green reports. “The trade association estimated the high yield cut more than 750,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from the UK’s electricity generators over the festive period, the equivalent of taking more than 300,000 cars off the roads.”

2. China poised to rapidly boost offshore wind power. Susan wrote on China’s tremendous plan to install 1,000,000 MW of wind power capacity by 2050 (accounting for 17% of the country’s electricity demand at that time), but it’s also worth noting that China’s got some good offshore wind power potential. The China Meteorological Administration estimates that the country has 750, 000 MW of offshore wind power potential, approximately 3 times more than its onshore wind power potential. Additionally, while its only got 2 offshore wind projects up at the moment, it’s learned a lot in developing these initial projects (which are 120 MW and 131 MW in size). It has lowered installation costs to approximately 60% percent what they are in Europe. China now plans to install 5,000 MW of offshore wind power capacity by 2015.

3. Gamesa to deliver another 50 MW of its G97-2.0 MW turbines to Longyuan in China. “The contract follows a deal signed a few months ago with the same company for the supply of the first 25 G97-2.0 MW machines to be delivered in China,” Gamesa reports. “Gamesa expects these additional 50 MW to be installed in June 2012.”

4. Canada’s first offshore wind facility. While China is looking to blow up its offshore wind power sector, “Canadian wind power developer Windstream Energy is making headway with Canada’s first offshore wind site,” Renewables International writes. “The 300-MW project is planned to be located off the southwest shore of Wolfe Island in eastern Lake Ontario. Siemens has been selected to supply the turbines.”

5. Why Warren Buffett is buying wind and Vestas is laying people off. You may have read the news that Warren Buffet is investing in the development of 407.1 MW (that’s a lot) of new wind power capacity in Iowa. You may have also Vestas, the world’s top wind turbine producer, is laying off thousands at the same time. Greentech Media explains why these big announcements are not contradictory (hint: both announcements are due, in part, to government energy polices). Also, more on the important U.S. policies related to all of this are in the full repost (from Climate Progress) below:

Policy Uncertainty Threatens 1,600 American Wind Jobs at Vestas — and 37,000 Jobs Nationwide

by Richard Caperton (Director of Clean Energy Investment at the Center for American Progress)

From now until the day Americans vote for president, every single candidate running for office will be talking about one thing: jobs.

But while candidates ramble on about who’s creating and who’s killing jobs, they’re ignoring the simple things that would actually help businesses create jobs – particularly in the crucial clean energy industry.

Exhibit A: Congress’s refusal to extend the production tax credit (PTC) is about to kill tens of thousands of high-paying jobs in the wind industry and is already causing businesses to stall projects, reduce orders and decrease manufacturing activity.

Yesterday, Vestas – a leading manufacturer of wind turbines – announced that it will have to lay off as many as 1,600 workers if Congress raises taxes on wind power by not renewing the PTC. What’s most frustrating is that there’s an easy fix. All Congress has to do is extend the PTC to 2016, as I called for earlier this week, and the whole problem would be avoided.

At a time when so many politicians are making tax issues a key piece of their campaigns, it’s quite ironic that one of the nation’s fastest growing industries is suffering from uncertain tax policy.

Sadly, there’s a lot of history for us to learn from on this issue. As has happened every other time the PTC has expired, wind turbine installations in 2013 will collapse. In fact, the Energy Information Administration currently projects literally zero wind projects for 2013. This chart shows how the PTC expiration has hurt wind in the past and will in the future:

wind energy ptc

Letting the PTC expire will hurt the entire wind industry, but it’s especially devastating to manufacturers like Vestas. As I wrote in my recent paper, “Good Government Investments in Renewable Energy”:

Unfortunately, we don’t have as many people working in the wind industry as we could. While the wind-manufacturing sector has grown in recent years, it has historically been crippled by the PTC expiring every two years. Manufacturers know that this on-again, off-again cycle for the industry would leave them with virtually no business every other year, so American wind farms use some imported parts

The Vestas announcement is bad news, but it’s not unexpected. In November, a bipartisan group of governors implored Congress to not raise taxes on the wind industry, warning of the economic impact in their states:

Wind-related manufacturing is beginning to slow in our states because the credit has not yet been extended. If Congress pursues a last minute approach to the extension, the anticipated interruption of the credit’s benefits will result in a significant loss of high-paying jobs in a growing sector of the economy.

Navigant, an economic consulting firm, went a step further and put numbers on this tax increase, estimating that not renewing the PTC would kill a whopping 37,000 jobs.

This policy uncertainty isn’t just impacting manufacturers and onshore developers, it’s also holding up offshore wind developers. As we outline in our report on offshore wind tax policy,NRG recently announced that its Bluewater Wind project would not move forward and cited Congressional inaction on the PTC as a key factor.

If Congress doesn’t do something soon, more wind power companies will be forced to follow in Vestas’ footsteps. Instead of just talking about putting people back to work, members of Congress should actually do their jobs to protect American workers.

Offshore wind turbines via shutterstock

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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