Just finished with an interesting 3 day AWEA workshop in Portland, which focused on wind resource assessment for large wind turbines. As expected industry representation consisted mainly of developers and local wind resourciung consultants.
One of the interesting points I took from the workshop was that of the achieved energy production (P50 - that is the mean estimate) was, on average, 8% less than esimated for US projects. Although not the data supporting this isn't 100% conclusive, it suggests that the availability of US windfarms are significantly less than assumed during the initial estimates - with average achieved availabilities of 93% when compared to European averages of around 97%.
What does this mean? Well it has a significant flow-on effect with financing, as major financiers lose confidence in the initial energy estimates provided by developers. This could reduce the financing supply to the US wind market and therefore capacity installation.
Is it really suprising considering the rapid boom in the US wind industry, and the development of large scale sites using the latest large European turbines? Possibly an over representation of the so-called 'infant mortality' in the project life is skewing the data somewhat. Regardless, it is always positive to get the farms up and running and learn from the implementation issues rather than hanging back cautiously and wait for someone else to do it. The reality is that the US market is providing a great market for the further development and optimisation of wind technology.
I will be adding more thoughts on the workshop in the next few days...