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News roundup: Good news for Southeast wind, breaking records in Denmark, and Vestas profits swing upward

News roundup: Good news for Southeast wind, breaking records in Denmark, and Vestas profits swing upward

Tuesday is here, and with it, more good news on wind power. A new DOE program will help access new southern winds, Denmark breaks a new wind power record, and Vestas looks toward a bright future.

The Department of Energy announced this week a $2 million program designed to help manufacturers build taller wind turbines, unlocking even more power from the breeze:

  • The Department of Energy recently announced a $2 million funding opportunity to improve logistics for taller wind turbines, which is big news for everyone in the South. Not only could the funding go to Southern businesses and universities, but also the research accompanying the announcement shows a giant resource potential in the South that can be “unlocked” with taller turbines.
  • Taller turbines can access faster and more stable winds that help drive down the overall cost of electricity from wind farms. New wind turbines installed across the country are now frequently about 500 feet tall (150 meters), and turbines even taller than that are already becoming mainstream.
  • Already, the South may be answering some of the challenges posed by taller turbines. NREL specifically outlined a regulatory hurdle that may have already been solved in Alabama. Wind farm developers typically have to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clearance for their projects, to ensure the wind turbines pose no threats to low flying aircraft. There has been confusion regarding FAA clearance for wind turbines over 500 feet tall (152 meters). Yet, a wind farm proposal in Alabama, with turbines potentially up to 570 feet tall (173 meters), recently won FAA approval and a determination of no hazard to air navigation. While that project may not ultimately use turbines that tall, the FAA clearance should certainly help boost the Department of Energy’s work on taller turbines.

Denmark is no stranger to breaking wind power records, but this one is especially impressive:

  • In December, wind power provided the country of Denmark with about 55% of its electricity. This is the first time that the wind-leading country (or any major country) has received over 50% of its electricity from wind power in an entire month.
  • Of course, wind power provided well over 55% of the country’s electricity during certain periods throughout the month. On December 1, it provided ~136% of the country’s electricity needs. During the week of Christmas, it provided 68.5%.
  • Denmark has a target of receiving 50% of its electricity from wind power on an annual basis by 2020. It looks like the country is well on its way to achieving that. The country also has a 2050 target of getting 100% of its energy from renewable resources.

Major turbine manufacturer Vestas’s fourth quarter numbers show the company is poised for profitability this year:

  • …[A] series of cost cuts and other moves have helped the company regain footing following severe decline and financial uncertainty that threatened the company's survival a couple of years ago.
  • Vestas' fourth-quarter numbers came in an unexpected disclosure released Monday evening, announced alongside a plan to replace an existing credit line with a bigger EUR850 million ($1.15 billion) facility and issue as many as 20.4 million shares, equivalent to about 10% of the company's existing stock.
  • The company said it expects revenue of at least EUR6 billion in 2014, roughly in line with the number achieved in 2013. For the year, Vestas narrowed its net loss to EUR82 million, compared with a loss of EUR963 million a year earlier.

Be sure to check out Monday’s roundup for more great wind power news: Wind power gets busy, DOE funds taller towers, and wind's a good deal in Maine

Sources:

Simon Mahan, “Big Wind Turbines, Big Opportunity for the South.” Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. 3 February 2014.

Zachary Shahan, “For 1st Time, Wind Power Provides Over 50% Of Denmark’s Electricity For 1 Month.” Clean Technica. 4 February 2014.

John D. Stoll and Clemens Bomsdorf, “Vestas Net Profit Improves Significantly.” The Wall Street Journal. 3 February 2014.

 

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