Site Selection magazine
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NOVEMBER 17, 2010
Vol. 2, Issue 08 A publication of Site Selection


  • A new ranking shows glitzy California leading once again in the fairly unglamorous field of energy efficiency policy, in The Plain Jane Alternative.

  • Do you consider yourself well informed when it comes to the multi-billion-dollar Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion that TransCanada wants to construct through six U.S. states, and the menu of environmental, economic and political factors involved? Tar Sands Thruway provides a roundup of where the project stands, and where it may be going.

Covered in a shimmering silver aluminum shell and with a photovoltaic system integrated in the southern facade, the "mountain crystal" alpine hut in Zermatt, Switzerland, generates its own power and is expected to be at least 90 percent energy self-sufficient.
Photos courtesy of Holcim

You may see no more beautiful example or setting for sustainable construction than the "New Monte Rosa Alpine Hut" in Zermatt, Switzerland, highlighted in the new Holcim Projects section of the Holcim Awards competition. Designed by Prof. Andrea Deplazes, architect, Studio Monte Rosa, DARCH, ETH Zurich, the "mountain crystal" generates over 90 percent of its energy itself (excluding cooking). After six years on the drawing board, the hut, which won a bronze Holcim Award in 2008, opened to hikers and climbers in March 2010. "Thanks to prefabricated elements, which were initially transported by train and then flown to the building site by helicopter and assembled on site, the building was completed in the summer of 2009 after just five months," says a project summary on the Holcim Web site. "After the inauguration, the 120-bed hut closed for the winter before reopening for alpinists for summer seasons lasting April to September."

A preliminary test by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) of a direct current (DC) power system at a Duke Energy data center in Charlotte has found that the system uses 15 percent less electricity than the existing alternating current (AC) power system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported to Congress that data center industry power consumption doubled from 2000 to 2006 and was expected to double again over the next five years. If this trend continues to 2016, then reducing data centers' energy consumption could reduce demand more than 25 billion kilowatt hours per year.

"While this is significant news for any company running a data center today, this could be especially critical for the more than 2.5 million smaller data centers across the United States that rely upon inexpensive yet viable ways to reduce costs," said Curtis Watkins in Duke Energy's Technology Development group in an EPRI news release earlier this week.

For the Duke Energy demonstration project, the data center's 480V AC was converted to 380V DC and delivered to the equipment racks via a 380V DC bus. The 15-percent energy savings provides a good benchmark for the industry because the 480 V AC system configuration is typical for data centers across the United States.

Territories looking for models for linking state economic development with city-level sustainability goals may want to check out Iowa's Green Streets program, based in part on LEED criteria, but also incorporating other sustainable living aspects. The program is seeing concrete results via pilot projects in such communities as the Transcendental Meditation capital of Fairfield, which created a Go-Green Strategic Plan after receiving an $80,000 grant from the Iowa Power Fund, a state fund designed to support energy independence. Other pilot-project towns include Woodbine and West Union, which intends to tap geothermal for heating and cooling as part of an $8.6 million energy-efficiency overhaul.

Iowa is known as a hub of both wind energy manufacturing and wind energy use. But Kansas has made its own moves. Evidence of further spinoff came earlier this fall when Holland-based Draka, a global manufacturer of wire and cable, announced plans to locate its first U.S. cable assembly venture for wind in Hutchinson, Kan., where the company will supply the Siemens nacelle facility there. The announcement makes Draka the first supplier to choose Kansas specifically to supply the Siemens facility. Draka will occupy an existing building and plans to begin operations Dec. 6. The company will create between five and 10 new jobs, with plans to double employment within a year.

"When Siemens chose Kansas for the company's new wind nacelle production facility in spring 2009, we knew it wouldn't be long before suppliers began coming to Kansas to supply the facility," said Kansas Lt. Governor Troy Findley. "We're excited that Draka has chosen to locate here, and we're optimistic that they are just the first of many suppliers that will locate near Hutchinson to supply the Siemens plant."

Siemens announced in spring 2009 that the company had chosen Hutchinson for the site of its first North American nacelle production facility. The company will host an event next month to celebrate its grand opening and shipment of the first nacelle units from the Hutchinson plant.

A different sort of energy-industry spinoff just occurred in Broken Arrow, Okla., where Enerflow Industries just announced an expansion that could add as many as 500 new jobs over the next five years. The oilfield equipment manufacturer is a participant in the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program. "We chose the Broken Arrow/Tulsa area over Houston due to the quality of the work force and property that was available," said John R. Power, general manager for Enerflow, which is based in Calgary, Alberta. "The incentives offered by Oklahoma and the local communities were definitely a plus too. We feel that the Broken Arrow/Tulsa area has the resources necessary for our projected growth and will continue to provide the support needed for manufacturing." Enerflow just opened the Oklahoma facility in October 2009. Through the Quality Jobs program, it could gain up to $6.19 million in payroll tax rebates if it meets its hiring goals.

Vattenfall's offshore wind farm portfolio includes the Lillgrund facility in Sweden.
Photo courtesy of Vattenfall

On October 28, Netherlands-based utility and energy giant Vattenfall announced it would take a 51-percent stake in the €1-billion DanTysk Offshore Wind joint venture, which will construct a wind farm in the North Sea. The project will be situated roughly 70 kilometers to the west of the German island of Sylt. With a capacity of 288 megawatts, and an output of around 1,320 GWh of electricity, it will eventually be capable of producing energy equivalent to the electricity consumption of 500,000 households. Construction will begin in 2012. Siemens will deliver the turbines, which will be commissioned in 2013. "The completion of the wind farm is expected around New Year 2013/2014," said Vattenfall.

The wind's blowing fair in Arkansas too, where on October 29 Nordex held the grand opening for its new $40-million wind turbine manufacturing plant in Jonesboro. The total planned investment for the site is $100 million, with further manufacturing capacity to be added in a second phase in line with market conditions. "There's no way around it," said Thomas Richterich, CEO of parent company Nordex SE. "To play in the U.S. wind market, you need a made-in-the-USA strategy. Our turbines are some of the most powerful and reliable on the global market, and now we can get them to U.S. wind farms quickly and cost-effectively."

Nordex has both completed and planned installations in several states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland and Colorado. The Arkansas facility will fill all future orders, shipping turbines to wind farms around the country.

According to a Nordex press release, the Jonesboro production crew spent 10 weeks at Nordex's German factory in Rostock, "and now their German counterparts have set up residence in Jonesboro for four months to work side-by-side with the crew on their home

Nordex plans to grow its ranks to nearly 70 in Jonesboro and 175 nationally by the end of 2010. It has the potential to create a total of 700 jobs in Jonesboro and 1,000 nationally over the next four years, not including indirect jobs created by suppliers and service providers. Earlier this year, steel components manufacturer, Beckmann Volmer announced it would build a $10 million dollar factory and employ 500 in neighboring Osceola to supply parts to Nordex. Part of Nordex's strategy is to make its supply chain 80 percent domestic within the next nine months.

Nordex has also built a 10,000-sq.-ft. (929-sq.-m.) training academy on site, and has a partnership in place with the Arkansas State University to teach "mechatronic" skills, which combine mechanical and electrical know-how and are specific to wind-turbine manufacturing. "We're making a long-term investment in our work force," said Joe Brenner, vice president of production. "These are not just jobs, they are careers."

Nordex team members get to work at the wind turbine maker's new facility in Jonesboro, Ark.
Photos courtesy of Nordex

The sun waits for no one. But sun-powered projects may be waiting once government incentives expire, according to a recent New York Times report. "Without continued government incentives that vastly reduce the risks to investors," says the article, "solar companies planning another dozen or so plants say they may not be able to raise enough capital to proceed."

A raft of informative presentations and news from the World Energy Congress held in Montreal earlier this fall is now available. The congress, held every three years, will convene in 2013, in Daegu, South Korea.

South Korean film manufacturer SKC Films will invest $100 million and add 120 jobs at its U.S. corporate headquarters and manufacturing site in Covington, Ga. A new 200,000-sq.-ft. (18,580-sq.-m.) facility for the manufacture of ethylene vinyl acetate film for photovoltaic cells will join a campus that also includes polyester film production facilities and a chemical systems facility that opened in May 2010. SKC plans to begin hiring for the new positions in April 2011.

Want more? Make sure to visit the Energy Report Archive.

"Energy Matters" is compiled, written and edited by Adam Bruns.

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