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Technology, PTC spur more wind industry growth

Extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and technological advancements, such as those developed atgeoAMPS, are helping to set the stage for continued growth of the wind energy industry.

Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration. That level of new power generation capacity exceeded the 30 percent added by natural gas and lesser percentages added by coal and other renewable and nonrenewable sources. This is especially remarkable considering the unprecedented low prices for natural gas.
The PTC allows 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy produced over 10 years by new wind facilities. The tax extension applies to wind projects that will begin construction in 2013, but not operational until 2014.The U.S. Department of Energy has projected that wind energy could meet 20 percent of the nation’s electricity needs by 2030.

The third quarter of 2012 saw 1,833 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity installed, bringing the first three quarters of 2012 to 4,728 MW. Through Sept. 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) states, U.S. wind now totals 51,630 MW of cumulative wind capacity produced by more than 40,000 turbines. There are more than 8,400 MW under construction in 29 states and Puerto Rico.Wind has added more than 35 percent of all new generating capacity in the U.S. over the past five years.

In addition to the tax incentive resulting from the PTC, technological improvements will help spur the continued growth of the industry. Many exciting technological advances, ranging from turbine blade and motor design to operational software, are making a significant impact on the industry today and likely will continue to do so in the years to come.geoAMPS, a technology company located in the Columbus, Ohio, area, has developed an industry-leading comprehensive solution for end-to-end management of wind projects. Its software product called altAMPS assists wind companies through the development, construction and ongoing operational stages of wind farm projects.

The process and organizational efficiencies, error elimination and measured cost savings possible by utilizing altAMPS provide opportunities for completion of additional wind projects. That translates into more wind capacity in total U.S. electricity generation and advances the nation toward 20 percent of power generation through wind by 2030.altAMPS is also designed to be utilized for other types of alternative energy projects, such as solar and geothermal. It increases the nation’s commitment to renewable energy and decreases dependence on fossil fuels and foreign sources of energy.

altAMPS is filled with time-saving tools, such as lease management, meteorological tower management, royalty payment calculator, bulk update, automatic reminders, payment tracker and scheduler, workflow and import-export capabilities, all of which make this powerful software invaluable for companies involved in renewable energy. And, it’s paperless.

A myriad of complex issues factor into the siting of a wind farm and multiple turbines within a wind farm space. altAMPS helps developers sort through these many issues and arrive at the most optimal siting decisions.

Wind energy industry officials report their number one pain point in managing a wind farm is managing ongoing payments. altAMPS provides the tools needed to meet these ongoing obligations in an accurate and timely fashion. Tools such as royalty payment calculator, lease management and payment tracker and scheduler make that process more efficient. Tasks that once took several days to complete by utilizing multiple spreadsheets can be done automatically and instantaneously with altAMPS. The software also ensures payment accuracy.

altAMPS offers GIS mapping capabilities that provide essential information on the project area. Project planners can receive information on each parcel, including ownership and other title information. They can access a record of topography, existing infrastructure and environmental assessments, and monitor the project area through color-coded maps and layers that provide 3-D visualization.The Web-based software makes it possible for right-of-way agents to access the most current information and input updates in the field through a smartphone, computer notebook or laptop. There is a detached application when Internet connectivity is nonexistent or unreliable. The information is synced into the system once a reliable connection is restored.

AWEA reports the wind industry is becoming one of the fastest growing U.S. manufacturing sectors. At least 472 factories currently supply the industry, up from as few as 30 in 2004, the Congressional Research Service found. Currently, U.S. manufacturing facilities are producing nearly 70 percent of wind turbines.If the industry grew to the level of supplying 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation, that would support approximately 500,000 jobs, with an annual average of 150,000 workers employed directly by the wind industry.

This blog also appeared in:
Renewable Energy News

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