IR-- GE Energy's Arklow site is the first large scale, offshore wind energy facility
developed solely as a technology demonstration platform for offshore wind power.
"Wind power is a renewable technology that has moved center stage," said Mark
Little, vice president, power generation for GE Energy.
Arklow Bank was chosen because wind speed testing proved it to be one of the windiest
found in Europe. The Arklow project also provided a learning base for offshore
safety practices. "Safety has been a hallmark of the Arklow project, with no health
or safety incidents or injuries recorded since construction started," Little added.
Placed in operation
in June of 2004, GE's 3.6-megawatt wind turbine exceeded its expected power curve,
and exceeded its availability targets. Power curve measures the output of a turbine
at varying wind speeds and availability tests the turbine's ability to produce
by GE Energy and Airtricity, Ireland's largest renewable energy company, the Arklow
Wind Park was introduced by Airtricity as a 520-megawatt project, and is the largest
offshore wind park to attain preliminary planning approval through a Foreshore
Lease granted by the Irish government in January 2002. Eddie O'Connor, CEO of
Airtricity, said: "The success of Phase One has proven the technical capability
of this venture and we are very excited about the prospect of harnessing the full
potential of this 520-megawatt project. The benefits to our economy and to our
environment from offshore wind energy are enormous and subject to the necessary
support from our government, similar to that in other EU states. Airtricity is
committed to delivering these benefits on a much larger scale."
25-megawatt project is Phase One of the project. Zeusford, a company owned 50%
by Airtricity and EHN of Spain, holds an option to purchase the project from GE.
EHN?is an ACCIONA?Group company and has installed 2,518 megawatts of wind in six
countries. Further development of the project to its potential 520 megawatts has
been proposed by Zeusford. The 520-megawatt project could meet approximately ten
percent of Ireland's total electricity needs. The first commercial prototype 3.6-megawatt
wind turbine was unveiled by GE during 2002. Installed on land as a test bed,
this machine is currently producing power for the Spanish energy supplier Iberdrola.
seaside community of Arklow warmly embraced the wind park project, not only for
its environmental benefits but also for its economic boon for the County Wicklow.
Pat Sweeney, outgoing mayor of Arklow said: "The park had a positive spin-off--hotels,
transportation companies, marine and port firms--benefited from new employment
and higher revenues." GE is using Arklow's port for O&M activities and equipment
staging and storage. After the inaugural ceremonies and lunch, over 200 boarded
the vessel, "Ceol na Farraigo" for the six mile voyage for an up-close viewing
of the operating turbines.
Arklow Bank in the Irish Sea is a 15-mile long, half-mile wide sand-bank. The
first structure of the sectional steel tower is the monopile which is the turbine's
foundation. It is hydraulically hammered into the sand-bank and emerges a few
meters above the water level. This installation is also widely used for offshore
oil and gas rigs. Transitional pieces are mounted on the monopile to provide cable
access to the tower.
wind turbine has a footprint of 16 feet in diameter and are spaced 1,970 feet
apart. Turbines reach 406 feet to blade tip and weigh 290 tons.
Wind turbines start operating at wind inflow of 4-5 meters per second (ms) and
max-out at 12-14 ms. The nacelle housing the transmission equipment is located
at the top of the tower. The power generated from the turbines is fed into a 15
km sub-sea cable to a 5 km underground land cable to the local ESB substation
for routing to the grid.
is Ireland's largest utility with installed capacity of over 4,700 megawatts and
serves nearly 2 million customers. GE has worldwide orders for 2,400 megawatts
of new wind turbines committed in 2005. GE has installed more than 7,100 wind
turbines with a rated capacity of 5,600 megawatts, Manufacturing and assembly
facilities are located in Germany, Spain, and the United States.
Ireland is ninety percent dependent on imported fuels. GE employs more than 2,200
people across 19 businesses located throughout Ireland, contributing more than
120 million euros to the Irish economy, Dan O'Connor, GE's country manager for
Ireland told World-Generation at the press conference.
turbines are designed for 20-25 years of performance. On a yearly basis, Phase
One saves 68,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Photo Courtesy of GE.
One of the Arklow Wind Park was fully funded by GE Energy. "GE developed the project
without recourse to the state, which is an exception to the Golden Rule," Prime
Minister Ahearn acknowledged in his ceremonial speech. "Continuing support will
be required in the future and will take the form of a fixed-price mechanism."
He was hinting at a change from the AER system of fixed quantities to the FIT
system of fixed prices.
Alternative Energy Requirement or "AER" granted fifteen-year PPA's for renewable
energy quotas. The AER system has not adequately stimulated the Irish market to
reach the EU mandate of 13.2 percent from renewables by 2010. Ed O'Connor said
only 100 megawatts of renewables have been developed in the past 12 years. He
favors merchant power projects as the CEO?of Airtricity, a small green utility
with 40,000 customers.
Fixed Feed-in or FIT system was landmark legislation passed in 1991 by Germany's
Parliament to guarantee renewable energy producers up to 90 percent of their domestic
sales prices. It was amended in 2000 as a new Renewable Energy Law fixing an 8.6
euro cent per KWH feed-in tariff over five years for on-shore wind projects and
over twelve years for off-shore wind projects started before 2008.
has been adopted in Spain and now Ireland, pending new legislation from the Irish
Department of Natural Resources.
US market is a hybrid of these two competing mechanisms. The Wind Energy Production
Tax Credit, or PTC, provides a 1.8 cent per KWH incentive on the federal level;
now 1.9 cent per KWH adjusted for inflation. Renewable Protfolio Standards, or
RPS, sets the quantity of electricity from renewables on the state level. My home
state of New York, one of 19 states with RPS provisions, has new requirements
for utilities to boost their renewable portfolios to 25 percent by 2013.
guarantees FIT for a twenty-year period while the U.S. Congress has extended PTC
three times, for two-year tenures.
American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is advocating the creation of a trading
market for renewable energy credits (REC's). REC's can be implemented without
PTC and can open up project financing. In the US, Airtricity is developing the
23,000 acre McDonald, TX ranch under a 30 year agreement for both wind and solar,
Martin McAdam, US?General Manager told World-Generation from his Chicago office.
Airtricity is also developing in upstate New York.