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Sailing close to the wind

With offices throughout Europe and the US, Navigant Consulting’s Energy practice helps clients strengthen their enterprises in order to increase performance, opportunity, and growth. PES spoke to Bruce Hamilton, the company’s Director of Energy, in Portland, Oregon, about its success record and about the future of wind and other renewables …

PES: Welcome to PES magazine, for the benefit of our readers who might not be familiar with your area of expertise, can you outline your role within the wind/renewables industry?
Bruce Hamilton: I’ve been in the wind business for about 15 years in various positions, working with independent power producers within the US like LGE and Inverdrola. I joined Navigant about two years ago where I am now a director in the energy practice and my responsibilities are mainly in the operations and asset management strategy areas, particularly wind power.

PES: To what extent does wind power currently fit into the ‘energy mix’ in the US? Is its share of the market growing?
BH: Its share of the market is absolutely growing but in terms of its share of energy generated it’s only about two per cent but in the capacity additions category, it actually tied for first in 2009 with just shy of 10 GW of wind installed in the US. About the same number of natural gas capacity was installed so for the last four years prior to that it’s been number two to natural gas and forecasted to remain number one or two for the near-term future

PES: Last year was reported as a boom year for US wind power. Do you agree with this statement? How will 2010 differ?
BH: I agree. It was a record year. I already mentioned a figure of just shy of 10 GW but I think the actual number was 99.2 or so but about 300 of which were actually properly categorized as 2008 and in fact a lot of the 2009 installations were really momentum carried over from 2008 which was in itself a record year. We think 2010 will be somewhat less than 2009 and this is from the lingering effects of the credit crisis and really the bottleneck has been financing. I think that the main story for 2009 has been the success of the stimulus grants – the ARRR program that kicked-in in the early to mid part of the year – where you no longer need to have production-type credits. In the US, we now have the option of taking investment tax credits or a cash grant in the form of 30 per cent of the initial investment.


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