Wind News: Major Investments Underway in US, Abroad

NextEra Energy is Bullish on Wind

US power producer NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) intends to invest between $2.7 billion and $3.1 billion in wind farms over the next three years, according to CEO Lewis Hay, who spoke during a quarterly conference call last week.

The company is the largest wind producer in the US with approximately 8.3 gigawatts (GW) of capacity and expects to add another 2 GW by the of 2012. 

This year, NextEra has signed power purchase contracts for 632 MW of wind – it has contracts for 1.1 GW in the US and Canada for projects that are expected to come online in 2013-2014. 

“We have signed more long-term power purchase agreements for new wind projects thus far in the first seven months of 2011 than we did in all of 2010,” CFO Armando Pimentel said.

They also plan to invest $2.3 billion to $2.7 billion on solar power projects over the same time frame.

German Wind Market Recovering

According to a manufacturer survey conducted by the German wind energy institute DEWI, 356 wind turbines with a capacity of 793 MW have been installed in Germany in the first half of 2011. That’s a 20% increase compared to last year’s level.

German wind energy association BWE and VDMA, the association of German mechanical engineers, expect about  1,800 MW to be installed this year, up from 1,551 MW in 2010.

The German wind industry has suffered since the 2008 global recession, but the country’s recent decision to phase out nuclear power and broaden renewable energy incentives should give it a boost in the near- and mid-term.

Suzlon’s Profits Rise 

India’s biggest wind turbine maker Suzlon Energy (SUZLON.BO) reported 80% year-over-year revenue growth for the second quarter.

The company brought in $980 million in sales for the quarter, compared to a loss of $206 million year over year. And they have $6.63 billion in orders.

Suzlon says it already has 450 MW worth of orders from around the world for its new 2.1 MW wind turbines designed for medium-to-low wind conditions. 

And the company announced it is selling its 26% equity share in Germany’s Hansen Transmissions for $187 million to ZF Friedrichshafen AG to strengthen its balance sheet.

US Project Roundup

Duke Energy’s Renewables Division will build a 200 MW wind farm in Willacy County, Texas, adding to its 1,000 MW portfolio. 
This is the fourth new wind project Duke has announced since May, adding up to over 500 MW. 

General Electric and Wind Capital Group have inked deals for 228 wind turbines and the accompanying operations and maintenance services for projects in Oklahoma and Kansas.

The projects will supply over 350 MW of electricity for the Midwestern US. Turbines for both projects are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2012.

Wind Capital Group’s installed US capacity will increase to more than 500 MW when these wind farms are completed. 

RPM Access Wind Development of Des Moines, announced it would construct a 150 MW wind farm near Gladbrook, Iowa next year.

RPM currently owns and operates eight wind farms with more than 1,284 MW of capacity.

Alliant Energy Corp. is also planning a 100 MW wind farm in Iowa.

Alliant is the parent company of two utilities – Wisconsin Power & Light Co. in Madison and Interstate Power & Light Co. of Cedar Rapids. 

The Journal Sentinel reports that Alliant is adding to its existing wind fleet to respond to more stringent environmental rules that will force the company to retire roughly 15% of its coal-fired generation by the end of the decade.

Chicago based wind developer E-on Climate & Renewables has applied for local permits to build a wind farm in central Indiana.  E-on wants to begin installing the 125 wind turbines by the end of the year.

Wind Works Power signed an agreement for $20 million in financing to help fund the 150 MW Thunder Spirit wind farm in North Dakota. Construction begins by the end of this year.

All in all, it’s shaping up to be a good year for the US wind industry. 2,151 MW was installed in the first half of 2011 versus 1,250 MW during the same period in 2010, a rise of 72% – according to a second quarter report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

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