Description: In the relatively brief history of utility-scale wind generation, the 'community wind' sector - defined here as consisting of relatively small utility-scale wind power projects that are at least partly owned by one or more members of the local community - has played a vitally important role as a 'test bed' or 'proving ground' for wind turbine manufacturers. In the 1980s and 1990s, for example, Vestas and other now-established European wind turbine manufacturers relied heavily on community wind projects in Scandinavia and Germany to install - and essentially field-test - new turbine designs. The fact that orders from community wind projects seldom exceeded more than a few turbines at a time enabled the manufacturers to correct any design flaws or manufacturing defects fairly rapidly, and without the risk of extensive (and expensive) serial defects that can accompany larger orders. Community wind has been slower to take root in the United States - the first such projects were installed in the state of Minnesota around the year 2000. Just as in Europe, however, the community wind sector in the U.S. has similarly served as a proving ground - but in this case for up-and-coming wind turbine manufacturers that are trying to break into the broader U.S. wind power market. For example, community wind projects have deployed the first U.S. installations of wind turbines from Suzlon (in 2003), DeWind (2008), Americas Wind Energy (2008) and later Emergya Wind Technologies (2010),1 Goldwind (2009), AAER/Pioneer (2009), Nordic Windpower (2010), Unison (2010), and Alstom (2011). Just as it has provided a proving ground for new turbines, so too has the community wind sector in the United States served as a laboratory for experimentation with innovative new financing structures. For example, a variation of one of the most common financing arrangements in the U.S. wind market ...
Date: January 19, 2011
Creator: Bolinger, Mark
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department