Wind industry highlights, Dec. 2, 2014

Wind dominates new U.S. power generation, Massachusetts offshore wind auction slated for January; Apple, Google and Microsoft data centers use renewable energy to cut costs and Alberta, Canada offers C$ 2 million for energy storage solutions.

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As reported in North American Windpower, wind power provided over two-thirds (68%) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity in October, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Specifically, the FERC statistics say five wind farms in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and Texas came online last month, accounting for 574 MW of new capacity.

U.S. Interior to auction742,000 acres for Massachusetts offshore wind
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced that more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a Jan. 29, 2015, competitive lease sale. In June, the department revealed its intention to auction off the designated Wind Energy Area (WEA), which starts about 12 nautical miles offshore Massachusetts, as four leases. ccording to an analysis prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the Massachusetts WEA could support between 4 GW and 5 GW of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power over 1.4 million homes.

New Jersey utilites again rejects offshore wind demonstration project
In March, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) rejected Fishermen's Energy's application for a 25 MW offshore wind demonstration project off the coast of Atlantic City, ruling it would be too costly and risky for state ratepayers. The BPU claimed that the project's OREC price would be $263/MWh, while Fishermen’s has maintained that its actual proposed price was $199.17/MWh.
          In August, a New Jersey court ordered the BPU to reconsider the Fishermen’s application after the developer won a $47 million follow-up grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Nonetheless, on Nov. 21, the BPU unanimously stood by its original decision. A spokesperson for the developer says it plans to appeal:
“With our power price now a full 25 percent less than the price the BPU claimed was too high, we are confident that we will win the appeal and eventually build this project, bringing hundreds of jobs, investment and other benefits to New Jersey.”

Wind power champion Sen. Grassley demands PTC extension
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has again stood up for U.S. wind power, having urged his colleagues in Congress to extend the production tax credit (PTC). Speaking on the Senate floor before Thanksgiving, Grassley called on fellow legislators to finally pass the EXPIRE Act, a tax extenders bill that has been stalled since May. The legislation currently includes a PTC extension and covers over 50 other expired tax credits.

Hyperscale data centers owned by Google, Apple and Microsoft are attacking high energy costs with renewable power generation on-site.
This article by Paul Korzeniowski reports that businesses spend almost as much on power and cooling as they do on data center servers, citing industry analyst International Data Corp. (Framingham, MA, USA). However, rather than simply buy traditional oil- or coal-based electricity, yyperscale tech companies Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are designing large data centers to run on renewable energy: solar, wind, water -- and even biogas and seawater. They are validating renewable energy data center designs and investing in renewable energy installations with the expectation that customers will eventually follow in their tracks.
          Apple's (Cupertino, CA, USA) data center in Maiden, North Carolina relies entirely on renewable power as part of a multifaceted renewable energy project. The company built a 100-acre plant that will produce 42 MW of energy annually, with more than 60% of that power coming from two solar arrays. In addition, Apple is partnering with NC GreenPower — an independent, nonprofit organization created by the North Carolina Utilities Commission — to increase renewable energy production throughout the state. Apple and NC GreenPower are using a local landfill (located just three miles from the Maiden data center) to generate electricity from waste materials' methane gas.
          Google (Mountain View, CA, USA), which has committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects such as large-scale wind systems and rooftop solar panels, uses renewable energy to power more than 30% of its operations. The company worked with NextEra Energy Resources (Juno Beach, FL, USA) to funnel 48 MW of wind-generated electricity to its Mayes County, Oklahoma data center. The Google data center in Hamina, Finland uses seawater from the Bay of Finland to cool its servers, storage systems and network devices — another green initiative that saves rather than generates energy.
          Microsoft (Redmond, WA, USA) is experimenting with powering a data center via biogas from a wastewater treatment facility. This 200 kW data center project requires collaboration with the University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY, USA), Fuel Cell Energy Inc. (Danbury, CT, USA) and the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Alberta seeks energy storage companies to help integrate renewables
As reported by North American Windpower, Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES, Calgary, Alberta, Canada) has announced that it is making C$2 million in funding available to help develop next-generation energy storage technologies for Alberta. AI-EES says it is looking for technology providers - from Alberta and beyond - that have ideas for energy storage to enable and accelerate the deployment of wind and solar power in the Canadian province.
          Composites can play a key role here through carbon fiber composite flywheel systems offered by a range of companies worldwide (see Composite flywheels: Finally picking up speed?).
          The group has issued a call for proposals, and applications are due Jan. 29, 2015. AI-EES will fund up to C$250,000 per approved project with up to C$2 million of funds committed. More information is available at ai-ees.ca/opportunities.

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