With renewed interest in renewable energy, wind power has become a major player in the sustainable energy sector. And one of the main components of the wind-energy strategy is distributed or small wind energy.
The Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) defines distributed wind in terms of technology application, “based on a wind plant’s location relative to end-use and power distribution infrastructure, rather than technology or project size.” Think: wind turbines behind the barn, supplying to the dairy farmer or industrial user.
The collaborative Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) recently concluded its annual meeting, business conference, lobby day in Washington, D.C discussing the overall state of the wind-energy industry.
Here’s a summary of what happened and an overview of the state of the distributed (or small) wind sector for 2022:
DWEA 2022 Recap | State of Distributed Wind 2022
This year’s DWEA conference started out with a bang, and on Monday, a free pre-conference seminar invited stakeholders in the Distributed Wind (DW) community to discuss Distributed Wind’s 1000 GW, multi-billion-dollar cleantech opportunity.
Panel discussions contained opinions from experts in the numerous DW market segments, such as:
- Off-grid energy,
- Residential wind power
- Wind energy and Agriculture,
- Commercial & industrial,
- Public wind
- Community wind
Next, we heard from a panel discussing the diverse market environments:
- Tax equity
- Federal policy
- Emerging markets
- Due diligence requirements for investors
The DW22 Business Conference, a cornerstone of the event, provided further information from a leadership panel on the state of the industry, where we heard from US-DOE representatives on the upcoming Distributed Wind Futures Study, the Rural Area Distributed Wind Integration Network Development (RADWIND) program, the Competitiveness Improvement Program as well as new tools for resource assessment at NREL.
The popular 8-minute “Lightning Round” presentations allowed attendees to give their company’s pitch for products and services, and facilitated open question and answer sessions from the audience.
In the afternoon, distinguished representatives from the Department Of Energy (DOE) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined DWEA’s federal policy director to provide a US government policy and programs update.
New for this year, we received a primer on Energy and Environmental Justice and an overview of environmental justice opportunities for distributed wind in the Deployment and Environmental Justice panel.
Distributed wind is a natural friend of energy equity because many distributed wind sites are located in rural and historically underserved communities. Closing remarks were provided by Michael Bergey, President of DWEA, and Bergey Windpower.
Renewable Energy Trends | DWEA Lobby Day
Due to remaining COVID protocols and increased security for President Biden’s State of the Union Address, DWEA’s annual lobby day was performed virtually and included participants from around the world.
Attendees held meetings with 46 different Senate and Congressional member offices and discussed DWEA’s three key federal policy priorities to consider in upcoming climate legislation:
- Grow the Department of Energy wind program, with no less than $18 million for distributed wind.
- Extend the investment tax credit- multi year extensions at 30%, plus refundable, section 25D direct-pay credits.
- Provide more diversity and balance for the USDA REAP program for underutilized technologies like distributed wind via a Reserve Fund.
The lobby day concluded on Capitol Hill with a reception with Senator Michael Bennet, a longtime supporter of the distributed wind industry.
Senator Bennet believes that action on federal policy is imminent and will help contribute to increased penetration of distributed wind in a global environment where energy independence is becoming increasingly important.
The final day of the conference was hosted by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Lab representatives Ian Baring-Gould and Brent Summerville. US-DOE and NREL have played key roles in supporting new technologies and product development for Distributed Wind.
With the new emphasis on deployment and decarbonization of the power grid, NREL requested ideas from the Distributed Wind industry on how best to use NREL’s resources to promote and facilitate projects and programs that will help bring Distributed Wind to scale.
Paul Rowan, Windurance co-founder and Director of Engineering says:
“I see really great opportunities for distributed wind data. We have an opportunity to do it right. In the early days of utility-scale wind deployment, everyone was always catching up with implementing data acquisition and remote monitoring. Now, with available technologies, we can implement condition monitoring and remote monitoring industry-wide and get it right the first time. NREL support under CIP subcontracts is making that possible. And this conference was filled with those technical leaders convening on the ground floor.”
Windurance and the State of Wind Energy
The conference ended with high hopes for upcoming climate legislation and a consensus-nearing vision for technology development.
It was clear that DWEA members “practice what they preach” – some were pleased to use all-electric transportation during their travels.
Want to get involved with distributed wind? We need business supporters all over the country! Please complete our survey to help us target legislative policy action in your area.