Thursday, April 07, 2011

Pennsylvania's Energy Firsts and Obama's Visit

Throughout US history Pennsylvania has played an important role in energy innovation. Arguably the "most important" and one of the first working oil wells was the Drake Well near Titusville (see "The Drake Well" on the Paleontological Research Institution's oil history page). The first operational nuclear power in the US was in Shippingport, Pennsylvania in December 1957 (see "Nuclear power" on wikipedia). There is an interesting description of Pres. Eisenhower's dramatic long-distance groundbreaking in the construction of the plant, and his remarks on that occasion in the March 28 New Yorker ("The Nuclear Risk," by Elizabeth Kolbert).

Again, with wind energy, Pennsylvania is taking the lead. The Gamesa plant in Bucks County is the only East Coast wind turbine facility (see Susan Phillips "The wind beneath their wins," Newsworks, 4/06/2011). Pres. Obama stopped by the Gamesa plant today. (see Thomas Fitzgerald, "Obama visits Bucks plant," 4/06/2011).

Before the visit the White House sent out background information:

The Obama Administration has taken major steps to encourage investment in domestic renewable energy manufacturing capacity, and the jobs that go along with it. Through the 1603 renewable energy grant program, the Administration has bolstered the market for wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable electricity technologies; over the last two years, this program has supported more than 7,000 renewable energy projects representing more than $21 billion in investment, and the addition of nearly 10 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation capacity. The Administration has also provided $2.3 billion of tax credits to expand clean energy manufacturing capacity. The Administration’s FY 2012 budget calls for continued investment in both of these important programs. In addition, the President has proposed a Clean Energy Standard that would double the share of energy America generates from clean energy sources over the next 25 years, providing a long-term incentive for investment in renewables and other clean energy sources.

Taken together, these programs have supported investment and job creation at clean energy companies like Gamesa, the first overseas wind manufacturer to set up full production facilities in the United States. Gamesa currently employs about 900 workers in North America, including 800 in Pennsylvania. Over the last five years, Gamesa has invested more than $220 million in Pennsylvania alone. Over the past 3 years, the company has purchased more than $900 million of U.S.-sourced content and services. Those investments spread across 45 states.

Gamesa opened its Offshore Wind Technology Center in Virginia in February 2011 in partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries, successor to Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. About 50 people now work at the facility where they will jointly design Gamesa’s first generation of offshore wind turbine, the G11X-5.0 MW machine, the first US designed offshore wind turbine. The team will install the first two turbines --- one onshore and one offshore for comprehensive validation testing --- by the fourth quarter of 2012 in the Mid-Atlantic region.

In 2009, the company upgraded its two U.S. manufacturing facilities to begin production of the new G90-2.0 MW wind turbine, which features a longer, lighter blade. The company has installed over 2,400 megawatts at 24 wind farms in 11 states, and has another 900 megawatts currently under construction in United States, all of which are expected to go operational by the end of 2011.

No comments: