The following is the electronic edition of WIND ENERGY WEEKLY, Vol. 15, #682, 29 January 1996, published by the American Wind Energy Association. The full text of the WEEKLY is available in hardcopy form for $450/year and is recommended for those with a serious commercial interest in wind (the electronic edition contains only excerpts). A monthly hardcopy publication, the WINDLETTER, more suitable for those interested in residential wind systems is included with a $50/year individual membership in the Association. AWEA's goal is to promote wind energy as a clean and environmentally superior source of electricity. Anyone sharing this goal is invited to become a member. For more information on the Association, contact AWEA, 122 C Street, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20001, USA, phone (202) 383-2500, fax (202) 383-2505, email

Weird weather reminds media of climate change

Canadian firm to sell Vergnet small turbines Developer, utility team in Ontario Hydro bid Ontario bid deadline is postponed by month Wind capacity soars in Europe and Asia


Wenvor Technologies, of Guelph, Ontario, has entered into a joint venture agreement with French small wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet to produce machines of the Vergnet design in Canada, Wenvor spokesman Al Paulissen said January 10 in an interview.

Vergnet's turbines, which include 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-kW models, are based on the design used by Aerowatt, a defunct French manufacturer which sold some turbines in Canada in the 1980s. Vergnet has "a fair number of machines operating in the Caribbean and Africa," Paulissen said.

The Vergnet machine initially appeared too expensive for the Canadian market, Paulissen said, "so we started looking at what the components would actually cost if purchased here and assembled, and the numbers came out very different. We plan to assemble the machines here with Canadian components and local machining." Wenvor has been working on the agreement and the production arrangements for a year and a half, he added.

Local sales of the turbines have been spurred by a recent decision by Ontario Hydro to allow net metering (under which excess power produced by a utility customer's wind turbine can be sold to the utility for the same price as it charges the customer for power), Paulissen said: "We've presold several units on that basis."

Wenvor, Paulissen said, initially proposed to install four 25-kW Vergnet machines in response to Ontario Hydro's recent request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy (see Wind Energy Weekly #680, January 15, 1996). "We were hoping to install them in some areas where the grid is weak, but Ontario Hydro didn't want to do that at this time," he said, so Wenvor joined with Danish manufacturer Micon to propose instead the installation of a single 225-kW turbine. If Wenvor's bid is successful, the Micon 225 would be erected at a site near Collingwood, Ontario, Paulissen said. Currently, Wenvor is among several bidders who have passed an initial cut and are on Ontario Hydro's short list.

Wenvor Technologies previously has sold mostly small wind turbines and photovoltaics, Paulissen said: "We have a few Whisper machines [from World Power Technologies of Duluth, Minn.] installed--one 3-kW unit in the Northwest Territories that provides heating and hot water, and several 1-kW units at remote cottage locations."


Wolfe Island Power, of Trout Creek, Ontario, a joint venture of small hydro developer Trout Creek Power and Great Lakes Power, a Sault Ste. Marie-based utility, submitted two bids for small windfarms in response to Ontario Hydro's recent request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy projects (see Wind Energy Weekly #680, January 15, 1996).

Martin Parker of Wolfe Island said the company proposed wind plants of 2 MW and 5 MW capacity and envisions using German Enercon E-40 500-kW turbines. The 5-MW proposal is on Ontario Hydro's short list of potential projects, and if Wolfe Island is a winning bidder, the facility would be built on the island of the same name in the St. Lawrence River, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario.

One of the principals of Trout Creek Power, Parker said, owns land on the island, and "we did some wind measurements and found that the winds were pretty good." Wolfe Island Power, he added, also plans to submit a proposal for a "medium wind farm" to Ontario Hydro (the deadline for proposals in that category was extended until later this year to allow bidders time for wind speed measurements).

Parker said the outlook for wind and other renewables in Ontario appears positive. "Like everywhere else, Ontario Hydro is in the middle of big change right now," he added. "There have been studies about selling off parts of the company, and anywhere else that would be the death of windpower, but the impression we get so far is that either there will be legislation to guarantee some percentage of renewables or renewable energy development will remain with [the utility]. So far, all signs are positive, and that, along with Great Lakes Power's interest, has made us keep going."

Great Lakes Power, Parker said, has a service territory in the Algoma area of northern Ontario and installed generating capacity of several hundred megawatts. The utility is owned by the Bronfman family, which made a fortune in the liquor business with the Seagram's brand and has extensive business holdings.


In a related story, Ontario Hydro has postponed the deadline for shortlisted bidders to submit final bids from January 31 to February 29, company spokesman Bunli Yang confirmed January 23.

The change, Yang said, resulted from the utility's inability to provide bidders with a firm ceiling on interconnection costs for projects, which is information that is needed for a final bid. A slippage in internal timetables caused the holidays to interfere with the gathering of cost information, and as a result, the utility still had not delivered the information to bidders by January 23. "We hope to have it out later this week," Yang said.


Confirming earlier AWEA projections (see Wind Energy Weekly #675, December 4, 1995), Europe surged ahead of the U.S. in installed wind generating capacity during 1995 and wind installations in Asia also jumped, according to preliminary figures on global wind installations gathered by Paul Gipe & Associates of Tehachapi, Calif.

Worldwide, wind power plants totalled 4,783 MW at the end of 1995, according to Gipe, who said in an accompanying memo that he believes totals "are accurate within plus or minus 10-15 percent." The new cumulative capacity total is up from 3,640 MW a year earlier, for an increase of 1,143 MW or 31 percent. In dollar terms, the global wind industry, after achieving its first $1 billion year in 1994, reached "$1.5 billion in 1995 in equipment sales alone and will approach $2 billion in 1996," Gipe said.

On a percentage basis, Asia, where the Indian market has been booming, led the way, racking up a rise of 160 percent, from 238 MW installed at the end of 1994 to 618 MW one year later. Asia's increase of 380 MW in capacity, however, was dwarfed by Europe, where 781 MW in new capacity was installed as the continent moved out from a virtual dead heat with the U.S. at the end of 1994 to a nearly 50 percent lead. Europe's increase amounted to a healthy 46 percent.

While wind capacity in Europe was going from 1,694 MW at the end of 1994 to 2,464 MW a year later, total installed capacity for U.S. wind power plants actually declined slightly, from 1,662 MW to 1,654 MW. Industry observers say the decline is the result of sharply falling power purchase prices in California, where 10- year power contracts signed in the early 1980s on the basis of projected escalations in the future cost of electricity have been replaced by payments at market rates. For some wind plants in the Golden State, this has meant a drop of up to 80 percent in power sales revenues, and as a result, a few facilities have ceased operations.

In sharp contrast to California, the European surge is largely due to new installations in Germany, where wind continues to gain at a rapid pace owing to that country's Electricity Feed Law, which requires utilities to pay a premium for power from renewable energy suppliers. Germany, where 643 MW of wind capacity was in place at the end of 1994, will surpass California's current total of 1,563 MW by the end of this year, according to Gipe.

"At a time when countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and India have found it advisable to encourage wind energy through various types of government support, both to stimulate their domestic manufacturers and to gain the benefits of this nonpolluting energy technology, the U.S. wind industry is having to fight off attacks on its tax incentive and on the federal wind research budget," commented AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "We have said for several years now that without a coherent government policy to encourage wind energy deployment, the U.S. cannot maintain its world market leadership, and today that prophecy is coming true."


January, 1995, may go down in history as the month when the media rediscovered the problem of climate change, once again in part because of some unusual weather on the media-heavy east coast of the U.S.

After the Blizzard of '96 dumped a record 30 inches of snow in Philadelphia, topping the previous record of 24 inches by 25 percent, and inundated other Eastern population centers, Newsweek magazine titled its January 22 issue "The Hot Zone," adding, "Blizzards, Floods & Hurricanes: Blame Global Warming." The Washington Post weighed in on January 22 with a commentary in its Outlook section on how the insurance and banking industries view the prospect of climate change with growing concern.

In part, of course, the new-found interest is due to new pronouncements from the scientific community that have made it respectable to talk about climate change again. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations-sponsored group of 2,500 experts from around the world, agreed in December that climate patterns show "a discernible human influence."

However, the Newsweek article included a map of extreme weather events worldwide during 1995 that makes it clear that the frequency of unusual hot spells, droughts and floods is also beginning to be worrisome. During the year, according to the map, severe heat waves or droughts occurred in the northeastern and midwestern U.S., northeast Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa, Austria, central Russia, Siberia, and eastern Australia. Severe floods also occurred in a number of locations.

The seemingly disparate combination of droughts and heavy rainfall is related, climate scientists say, because unusual heat in one area causes extreme evaporation, which appears as rainfall elsewhere. A team headed by Thomas Karl at the National Climatic Data Center reported last May that since 1970, rainfall in the U.S. has become more concentrated, arriving in a smaller number of heavier storms.

Climate scientist James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was derided by many when he told a Congressional committee in 1988 that global warming had arrived, was featured in the Newsweek spread, commenting that "The climate system is being pushed hard enough that change will become obvious to the man in the street in the next decade."

The Washington Post opinion piece, by Mark Hertsgaard, recounted a series of recent statements by insurers, particularly in Europe, to the effect that their industry is potentially threatened by climate change. Since actuarial tables and the cost of such products as flood and crop insurance are based on past weather history, the possibility that history may no longer be an accurate guide is cause for alarm.

Ocean geologist Jeremy Leggett, who works for Greenpeace and has been organizing seminars and lobbying sessions among insurers, is hoping to persuade the industry to divert some of the $1.4 trillion it collects in premiums every year to investment in renewable energy projects, the article said.

BACK TO *********************************************************************