Archive for March, 2009

Transporter says wind-power shipments ‘took off’ in March

Posted on March 30, 2009. Filed under: Wind |


From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Suppliers to the auto industry may want to shift their focus to wind components, given incentives for renewable energy included in the federal stimulus package.

Wisconsin has always been a supply-chain state, to the farm industry with implements, then to the auto industry with motors. But the effort to woo the wind-power industry to the state is centered north of Milwaukee, the former machine shop to the world.

The focus on wind is coming from The New North, the economic development initiative of northeastern Wisconsin, home to Tower Tech in Manitowoc, Badger Transport in Clintonville and dozens of other suppliers to the wind industry.

The wind industry had been growing at a record pace year after year until it was hit by the economic slowdown like other businesses, said Jeff Anthony of the American Wind Energy Association.

The wind industry’s growth has been something to watch, said Al Johnson, president of Badger Transport, which ships the wind industry’s oversized components.

“We do everything,” he said. “We do the towers and the blades and the cells.”

Johnson’s company has been involved in the wind industry since 1997, and seen it grow from less than one-third of his company’s sales to more than 90% today.

“I was involved in it when it was feast or famine for quite a number of years.”

Companies clustered
Across northeastern Wisconsin, 95 companies are supplying the wind industry, creating an economic cluster that the region seeks to capitalize on.

“When we focus on the wind industry, our message is not: ‘Come to northeast Wisconsin and build your wind farm,’ but rather: ‘Come to northeast Wisconsin if you are involved with the supply-chain side of the wind industry,’ ” said Josh Morby, spokesman for The New North.

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Wind and jobs continue growing in the Midwest

Posted on March 29, 2009. Filed under: General |


wiscsupply_chain_smallFrom a post on the blog of the American Wind Energy Association:

What’s a wind industry supply chain? To find out, you’ll have to go to Appleton Wisconsin March 31. And say hello to Gov. Jim Doyle while you are there.

Manufacturing related to the wind industry–that’s the supply chain– has become a bright spot in the middle of the recession-darkened economy. Over 8,000 components and parts are used in the construction of utility-scale wind turbines, and the wind industry created an estimated 35,000 jobs in 2008. To keep the momentum going, AWEA sponsored a supply-chain workshop in Cleveland back in January and 800 company representatives showed up to learn how they could get into the business.

Now AWEA is joining with several groups in Wisconsin to present a similar supply chain seminar at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. Gov. Doyle, who will be speaking at the seminar, has long been a supporter of wind and other renewables, and Wisconsin is seen as a key state in wind component manufacturing potential.

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Cutting energy creates jobs in tough times

Posted on March 27, 2009. Filed under: Economic development, Energy Efficiency |


From a post by Tom Content on JSonline:

The exception to a hiring freeze imposed in recent months by Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. has been the company’s building efficiency division.

In the last six months, the Milwaukee-based energy business, which provides energy controls and renewable energy consulting to its customers, has added 70 jobs, said Don Albinger, vice president of renewable energy solutions. That includes people in sales, energy engineers, project managers and construction managers, he said.

“And we have the capacity to double that when the economy turns around,” he said during an interview at the Renewable Energy Summit in Milwaukee. Don’t expect all that hiring to happen right away, given the economy, but the economic stimulus package’s focus on energy efficiency and renewable power will translate to more jobs over the next year or so, he said.

Albinger and Joe Jacobsen of Milwaukee Area Technical College, the institution hosting the energy conference, spoke at the conference about the need for consumers to think about the energy choices they make at home or at the office, often without thinking about it.

Turning off the power strip underneath the computer overnight can have a far-reaching impact if everyone did so, Albinger said.

Buildings account for 40% of electricity use by most estimates, and just reducing wasted electricity can help building owners save on electricity bills and on carbon dioxide emissions linked to energy use, energy efficiency experts say.

“There’s a huge disconnect,” Jacobsen said. “There are plenty of opportunities to make our buildings more efficient than they are.”

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Energy habits need to change quickly

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Climate change |


From a post on Tom Content’s blog on JSonline:

The United States should enact a carbon tax – and distribute the proceeds to every adult in the nation — as a policy move to create behavior changes needed to reduce emissions linked to global warming.

That was the message climate scientist James Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration brought Wednesday to nearly 300 people at the Renewable Energy Summit in Milwaukee. Hansen directs the Goddard Institute of Space Studies and has been outspoken in raising concerns about elevated levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“We have reached a point where there is a crisis,” he said.

Energy habits need to change quickly to keep the concentration of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere at levels that would prevent dramatic rise in sea levels later in this century, Hansen said.

“The danger is that we will push the system past tipping points where dynamics of the system begin to take over and even without further additions of greenhouse gases we will get large changes,” he said.

“The bad news is that we’ve realized in just the last couple of years that we’ve already passed into a dangerous zone. If we just left the compesotion at what it is now we would get some very undesirable changes. But the good news is we can actually reduce the atmospheric concentration amount of CO2 if we take the right policy steps, and there would be other benefits of doing it.”

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Pleasant Prairie experiment: Subtracting carbon from coal

Posted on March 25, 2009. Filed under: Carbon, Climate change, Generation Plants |


From a post by Tom Content on JS Online:

The carbon dioxide catch-and-release experiment in Pleasant Prairie, which started last year, is getting some more attention today.

The We Energies power plant is the site of a project funded in part by the Electric Power Research Institute and the French company Alstom. Alstom has built a system at the state’s largest coal-fired power plant that uses chilled ammonia to separate the carbon dioxide that’s heads out into the atmosphere.

If all goes well with this test, the utility industry is planning a bigger demonstration of this technology at a coal plant in West Virginia.

Whatever technological change is forced on utilities, it won’t come cheap, Wall Street Journal Environment Editor Jeffrey Ball writes in his column today.

“Whatever the truth about ‘clean coal,’ consumers will be paying for it one way or another,” Ball writes.

The test is one way that the utility sector is preparing for regulation of greenhouse gases at some point by Congress. That’s significant for Wisconsin given how much we rely on coal for power.

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Three presentations: Solar hot water, renewable economic impacts, and wind outlook

Posted on March 24, 2009. Filed under: General |


From two presentations by Michael Vickerman at the 2009 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit:

Getting Serious About Solar Hot Water
Value Proposition to System Owner
+ Less expensive (on a life-cycle basis)
+ Predictable return
+ Negligible risk

Value Proposition to Society
+ Emission-free
+ Non-depleting
+ Indigenous
+ Highly secure

SHW Potential in Wisconsin
+ Can offset between 2.6% to 4.1% of NG use
+ Avoiding 150 million therms/year
+ Saving $150 million annually (2006 prices)
+ Offsetting 820,000 metric ton of CO2


Economic Development Impacts of Renewable Energy

Economies of scale are achieved by shrinking the labor contribution relative to output, which explains why utility-scale energy is less expensive than do-it-yourself energy.

Distributing renewable energy through customer-sited systems increases job-hours per energy unit produced as well as promoting entrepreneurship and small business development. . . .

From Small Systems – Big Results in Germany:
+ Utilities are required to accept power from customer-sited RE systems through fixed, long-term buyback rates
+ 15% of Germany’s electricity now generated from renewables
+ In 2007 $14 billion invested in RE
+ Germany has half the world’s PV capacity
+ Payoff: 300,000 people employed in the RE sector.

And in Wisconsin:
+ 338 Focus on Energy-funded RE systems installed
+ 40% increase over 2007
+ $3.5MM incentives obligated
+ Full-service installers — 35 PV; 24 biogas; 64 SHW; 21 wind; 15 biomass.

From another presentation at the Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop:
Windpower in Wisconsin: Outlook for 2009 and Beyond

Why Promote Windpower?
Clean = Environmental
Non-depleting = Energy Security
Fixed Price = Risk Management
Creates Wealth = Economic Development
Scalable to Utilities = Practicality

The current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) will yield an additional ~4.2 billion kWh/yr of qualifying renewable electricity by 2015, assuming no load growth.

Assuming that windpower generates 90% of that quantity, about 1,600 MW of wind capacity must come on line between 2004 and 2015 to satisfy the RES.

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Fox Cities Habitat for Humanity to build 14 solar-equipped homes

Posted on March 22, 2009. Filed under: Solar |


From an article by in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

Menasha — Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity plans to equip all 14 homes it builds in 2009 with either a solar water heating system or a photovoltaic electrical generating system.

The project is supported by a partnership of utility corporations, non-profit organizations, and educational establishments including We Energies, Kaukauna Utilities, Focus on Energy, Midwest Renewable Energy Association and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Habitat for Humanity will begin construction of its first solar equipped home in the Fox Valley this month in Appleton.

“We have been employing green building practices for a while now,” said Habitat executive director John Weyenberg. “This is only the next logical step in our effort to promote housing that is not only simple, decent, and affordable, but environmentally sound as well.”

This is the second major solar project for Habitat in Wisconsin. In 2008, Milwaukee’s affiliate of Habitat for Humanity built 20 homes, equipping them with solar hot water and solar electricity.

“This is technology we know works,” said Habitat construction supervisor Kevin Franz. “It’s more of a demonstration to show other homebuyers that solar energy is practical even this far north.

“It’s also to help stimulate the technical education required. We need many more trained solar system installers in northeast Wisconsin and we hope that by partnering with institutions like NWTC we can move the process along.

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Wind energy gives Europe a competitive advantage

Posted on March 20, 2009. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |


From an article on Wind Daily:

Wind energy can replace a large proportion of the polluting and finite fuels we currently rely on,” explained Andris Piebalgs, EU Energy Commissioner, at the opening session of the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC) organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“It makes good sense to invest in indigenous sources of power which hedge against unpredictable fossil fuel prices and in which Europe has a real competitive advantage.”

According to the European Commission, 3.5% of the world’s proven coal reserves are in the EU. We sit on less than 2% of the world’s gas; less than 2% of its uranium and we have under 1% of the world’s oil. ‘The fight over the world’s rapidly depleting fuel resources is already intensifying,’ emphasised Arthouros Zervos, EWEA’s President, at the session.

“It will only become more brutal with time and Europe will lose the battle. European companies have two thirds of the EUR35 billion global market for wind power technology. Wind energy is Europe’s contribution to peace, progress and prosperity and we should urgently develop, promote and export it to the best of our ability.”

Wind energy’s contribution to prosperity is analysed in detail in a new EWEA report, which Zervos presented to delegates.

“The Economics of Wind Energy provides a detailed insight into wind energy economics and compares the costs of wind to those of other power-generating technologies.”

Zervos also announced that EWEA has increased its 2020 target for installed wind energy capacity in the EU from 180 GW to 230 GW, including 40 GW offshore.

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Don’t blow chance for windpower

Posted on March 19, 2009. Filed under: Wind |


From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Wisconsin Power & Light’s plans to look more toward the wind as a power source should underscore for lawmakers the need to support wind farm development.

Wisconsin cannot afford to let the statewide interest in harnessing clean, renewable power from the wind be frustrated by local “not in my backyard” campaigns against wind farms.

The goal should be to adopt statewide standards for siting wind farms that limit local government regulation and provide developers with an opportunity to appeal. The standards should also preserve local authority to restrict or reject wind farms when warranted.

Interest in wind power is growing following state regulators’ rejection last year of a new coal-fired power plant proposed by WPL, As an alternative to coal, the utility planning to develop more wind, biomass and natural gas power sources. . . .

But wind power confronts a barrier.

Developers of small wind farms, unlike developers of large wind farms, fall outside the regulation of the state Public Service Commission. They left to local regulation.

Too often, local governments are cowed by “not in my backyard” worries about the impact of wind turbines — worries that may be based on misinformation but that local governments lack the expertise to evaluate.

The result is impossible-to-meet restrictions that draw small wind farm development to halt.

For example, in 2007 Trempealeau County adopted a wind power ordinance so restrictive that it effectively banned wind farms.

A solution emerged with a proposal to require the PSC to issue model rules specifying what restrictions local governments could impose on wind farms. The bill also granted developers a right to appeal.

Lawmakers failed to pass the proposal last year. This year should make that legislation a top priority.

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Grants available to fund staff positions on energy savings

Posted on March 17, 2009. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, General |


From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

MADISON, Wis. (March 17, 2009) – Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, announced new staffing grants today to help businesses, manufacturers, farms, schools and government facilities throughout the state complete energy efficiency projects.

“Businesses don’t need to let staffing issues become a barrier to energy savings,” said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s Business Programs director. “Focus on Energy is committed to helping companies overcome barriers that prevent them from completing energy efficiency projects.”

The grants will fund up to $80,000 for a full- or part-time employee or consultant to work on-site and manage energy efficiency projects that otherwise would not be completed due to a lack of human resources. Grant funding will go toward the salary and benefits of a project manager who will oversee and engineer energy savings projects.

The grant is designed to help businesses hire new staff or retain existing employees who might otherwise be at risk of lay-off. Partnering or neighboring companies are encouraged to submit a joint application and share an employee or consultant between businesses.

“Focus offered a similar program last year that was very popular and produced even more energy savings projects than expected,” Williams explained. “We are pleased to offer an expanded version of the program for 2009.”

Interested businesses should visit focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives for more information. Applications must include a list of potential projects, as funding is based on the energy savings from those projects and is paid when projects are completed. Applications must be received by April 30, 2009. In addition, completed energy efficiency projects are also eligible for Focus on Energy financial incentives that can be found at focusonenergy.com/incentives/business.

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