The U.S. utility-scale wind energy industry gathers once again this month for the American Wind Energy Association’s annual WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition. The 2015 event runs from May 18 – 21, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
The event could not have come at a better time for an industry that, following record annual installations in 2012, suffered heavily the following year, due largely to policy uncertainty surrounding the production tax credit.
Currently, although the industry remains plagued by both a lack of a clear, long-term policy support and the expiry of the tax credit, it is enjoying somewhat of a rebound.
The industry installed 4,854 MW in 2014 — up from 1,087 MW a year earlier, yet still dwarfed by the record annual installation of 13,131 in 2012.
In April, AWEA announced with the release of its “U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2014,” that 12,700 MW of wind energy projects were currently under construction at the beginning of 2015.
Also setting the stage for WINDPOWER 2015 is a report released in March by the U.S. Department of Energy, which states the U.S. wind energy industry is capable of steady growth in the years and decades to come. The report, titled “Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States,” the DOE claims that wind energy can provide 10 percent of the nation’s electricity supply by 2020; 20 percent by 2030; and 35 percent by 2050 if certain criteria outlined in the report are met.
These elements have combined to generate more than a fair amount of buzz within the wind industry, and will likely take shape in the discussions and conference sessions scheduled for WINDPOWER 2015.
The education program for WINDPOWER 2015 — consisting of conference sessions, poster presentations, technical training, side meetings, and AWEA committee meetings — is structured based upon six primary market segments, including: Manufacturing & Supply Chain, Project Development & Planning, Operations & Maintenance / Safety, Utilities & Grid Operations, Finance & Investment, and Policy & Law / Legal. AWEA’s descriptions of these market segment tracks follow.
Manufacturing & Supply Chain — Cost-effective tools for sustaining success
Wind-related manufacturers have cost-effective access to the tools and information they need for sustained success in an ever-changing environment. Crafting your agenda around this sector will help you address the future of wind energy as it relates to manufacturing and the supply chain, the emerging trends in wind turbine technology, the changing markets and the opportunities they create, and more.
Project Development & Planning — Harvesting the wind
Leading professionals from all areas of the wind project development cycle are bringing their expertise in 2015. Sessions enable the exchange of ideas and insights, and cover every key topic—from siting & permitting to construction, transportation, logistics, resource assessment, and forecasting. Access the sessions, companies, and key leaders in this industry sector for the information you need to ensure that your wind project delivers top performance and reliability.
Operations & Maintenance, Safety — Preparing for long-term profitability and reliability
Successful wind power operation depends on management strategies that streamline costs, maximize production, ensure workplace safety and extend the life and reliability of your equipment. Below are the resources available to addresses the operational lifecycle issues that challenge owners and operators, now and down the line. Plus, meet with peers and evaluate best practices for managing wind projects.
Utilities & Grid Operations — Delivering the wind
Your focus is getting wind energy to utility customers and WINDPOWER has what you need. Obtain the information and make the right connections to maximize the successful incorporation of wind energy into the grid. Collaborative sessions and panel discussions address potential impacts, challenges and successes, and offer a deeper understanding of integration cost, price stabilization and fluctuating output management.
Finance & Investment — Lay the foundation for financially successful project
Whether you want to invest in a new project or discover innovative funding strategies that are impacting the wind energy landscape, the educational program has the knowledge leaders you need to find opportunity in U.S. and international markets.
Policy & Law/Legal — Navigating the wind energy landscape
Dive into how federal, state, and local policy will shape demand. Plus hear from communications experts and law/legal professionals to help you navigate through current and developing market conditions.
In addition to the conference sessions, certain presentations will take place on the Exhibition Hall floor as part of the Thought Leader Theater, sponsored by Mortensen Construction.
At the Thought Leader Theater, industry experts from leading wind energy companies will discuss their expertise, how their company is finding success, and what their company can do for attendees.
These presentations will take place throughout the conference and will be located at Booth #2538 — near the AWEA Booth. The presentations are 30 minutes in duration, and run from 11:00 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20, and from 10:00 a.m. through 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 21. A full schedule of the Thought Leader Theater presentations, including times, topics, and sponsors can be found online at the WINDPOWER 2015 website (www.windpowerexpo.org).
For more information about AWEA’s WINDPOWER 2015 Conference & Exhibition, including the full schedule of events, an exhibitor floor plan, and related materials, visit www.windpowerexpo.org. The conference session schedule, including session times and topics, as well as exhibiton hall hours of operation can also be found on page 26 of this issue.