Wednesday, May 06, 2009

WINDPOWER 2009: Exhibitors

Before my feet gave out from walking around the huge convention center, I took an initial jaunt through the tradeshow floor to learn about some of the companies exhibiting. I didn't notice as many flashy booths and set-ups as last year (like Acciona's full-sized nacelle you could tour in '08), but there was lots of good information and friendly people were ready to talk about what's next in the wind business.

Mariah Power designs and constructs residential wind turbines, but they're hardly conventional looking. Below is their WindSpire model. It's about 30 feet high and two feet in radius, and the company says it can produce up to 2,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power per year. The average home uses uses 800-1000 kwH per
month, so it's not going to eliminate your electric bill, but it may help reduce it a bit (as always, you should make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible before investing in a wind turbine or a solar panel).

In this pod, Vestas showed us a short, futuristic-style film of how its newest wind turbines was made (completely fictional, but it was supposed to give you a sense of the technological advantages of the new V112 3-MW turbine (click on the link to get a flavor of the type of video we saw).

I'd heard that one wind company had a 3-D movie going, and I found it at the Gamesa booth. I put on some big glasses and watched a 3-D movie that took us through the anatomy of a wind turbine. Very interesting, even if felt like you were on a rollercoaster at points.

There are a lot of companies here from my home state of Minnesota. I visited with one today, called Midwest Wind Finance (MWF). The Minneapolis company finances community wind projects all around the country, ranging from $5 million - $10 million in size. Judging by the number of project developers looking for financing at this convention, it was no wonder that MWF's booth was swamped with people. Their vice president, Jeff Wright, explained to me that MWF helps finance projects during the siting and permitting stages of a wind farm - a time at which many projects have a hard time finding financing (compared with when they're ready to put up the turbines, for example). So while it's easy to get excited about the newest turbine design, only sufficient and stable financing will make those blades turn.

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