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08/14/2012 04:38 PM     print story email story  

Wind News Around the World News

The looming expiration of the US wind production tax credit is already forcing hundreds of layoffs at US wind turbine and component makers.

Earlier this week, the world's largest turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems gave out pink slips to about 20% of its 450-person workforce in Pueblo, Colorado this week. The company employs about 1,700 people in the state.

The move follows that Otter Tail Corp.'s wind tower subsidiary, DMI Industries Inc., of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be shut down entirely, idling about 167 people.

Layoffs have also been announced by LM Wind Power in Arkansas and Trinity Industries in Texas.

The U.S. wind energy sector employs about 75,000 people across the states already mentioned as well as in Illinois and Iowa, which has more manufacturing facilities than any other state. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that 37,000 jobs could be lost if the tax credit isn't extended – one reason the wind tax credit will be a huge issue in the 2012 Presidential election.

Germany Reports Record Wind Installations

Despite the US uncertainty, the wind market in Europe has been growing at a record pace this year. And despite delays of its own, Germany managed to report record growth of 26% for wind installations in the first half of 2012.

The country added 1,004 megawatts (MW) of capacity bringing the total at the middle of the year to 30, 016 MW, reports the German Wind Energy Association, BWE.

"What is making a big difference is that states in southern Germany, such as Bavaria, are starting to embrace wind energy," says Hermann Albers, president of BWE.

The country's goal is to increase renewable energy capacity to 35% of the electricity supply by 2020, and 80% by 2050. Germany already gets about 25% from clean energy sources. It is the third largest country as far as wind energy production, behind China and the US.

Germany has been slower to develop its offshore wind resources. But that sector also got a boost this week with the news that Denmark's DONG Energy will pay $194 million to buy three German North Sea wind power projects that have a combined capacity of 900 MW

DONG Energy already has an offshore and onshore wind portfolio of about 1,035 MW, with 2,000 MW under construction in Denmark, Germany and the UK. The company is aiming to grow its portfolio to at least 3,000 MW by 2020.

Ireland to Become Wind Electricity Exporter?

Irish renewable energy developer Element Power just got the go-ahead from National Grid UK to connect up to 3,000 MW of wind-generated electricity from its proposed project in the Midlands of Ireland to the UK grid. 

The proposed Greenwire development would place 3,000 MW of wind turbines in the counties of Meath, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly and Kildare by 2018. Unlike other farms being built by this wind-rich country, all of the wind energy would be exported to the UK, which is facing a crunch when it comes to sourcing clean energy – and has been importing more coal as a result.

Greenwire would provide about 10% of the clean energy of the 30 GW of clean energy that the UK needs to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets, says Element Power.

“The UK energy requirement has become Ireland’s opportunity, it makes perfect sense to capitalize on our geographic location and create an export industry. Greenwire is the enabling project that will allow this to happen boosting our national trade and generating considerable employment and benefit to the Midlands region,” says Tim Cowhig, CEO of Element Power Ireland.

The electricity will flow between Ireland and Wales via two underwater cables.

Now, there's the matter of getting the application approved.

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