It would be too easy for us, as champion of wind power, to focus on the desperate situation that befell the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The oil spill has been ruinous and BP’s reputation was severely damaged, but it’s encouraging to know that the company is still pressing ahead with its wind energy division.
It’s an area of BP’s business that is broadly overlooked by the mainstream media (for whatever reason), but perhaps it should be more widely reported upon – and applauded, even. John Graham, BP Wind Energy’s President and CEO, is quietly determined to make a success of his division, having stated in a recent interview: “We’re following our policy. We invest about $300 million a year. We’ve done it consistently and will continue to do so. We continue to build and operate.”
BP Wind Energy has 1,205 megawatts of installed capacity in seven US states, two new projects near completion, and two more in advanced stages of development. “Our business has been around since 2006 as part of BP’s push into the alternative energy space,” Graham explains. “Over the last couple of years, we have invested in excess of three billion dollars of cash into physical assets of nine operating wind farms and two in construction.”
And while the company comes to the wind market from a different viewpoint than others in the field, it’s reassuring to know that it faces the same challenges as the rest of us “at the state level and the federal level”. The US is embroiled in a national policy row that is inhibiting the growth of offshore development, while at state level, Graham believes, “probably the biggest issue right now is from the Department of Defense radar concerns.” There are, however, technological fixes in the pipeline. “I’m not an expert on this,” Graham said, “I think it ultimately comes down to what it is in the old radar technology that can be improved with more modern radar technology.” He expects a solution to be devised soon. “It isn’t a big financial issue, it’s just a willingness to do it. And I think that’s what the industry is trying to work with.”
From Graham’s comments, it’s plain to see that he is a industry executive with the same values, challenges and goals as the ‘pure wind’ developers. And with his company’s might and financial backing, he may just help forge a better future for us all. Watch this space.
PES is committed to reporting from every angle of the wind sector, with regular news updates, analysis and comment. For more, head to www.pes.eu.com
Simeon de la Torre
Editor, Power and Energy Solutions