Arno's EnergyIdeas (49)
2009 Fuel Cell Seminar und Windmill Tour in Palm Springs
About 1.400 participants attended this year's Fuel Cell Seminar in Palm Springs, CA, United States, so, the official attendance numbers released from Courtesy Associates from Washington, DC, the organizers of the event. A "tight" program was offered: within three days there have been six short courses each with a duration of four to eight hours, lectures of 114 international speakers, two panel discussions in the exhibition area and the presentation of the 2009 Fuel Cell Seminar Award to representatives of progressive companies like General Motors (new or old?) and Honda Motor, Co. The ceremony of the Dr. Bernard S. Baker Student Award for Fuel Cell Research made the show complete.
Two forum presentations took place in the poster area, the program booklet announced a total of 226 posters. The German share with six posters (equivalent to 2.2 percent of all poster presentations) was decreasing again, a fact which has already been evident at other international H2/FC conferences. What could be the reason(s) for that?
Without transformer stations, even if they are made of wood, nothing
works: Impressions of the wind farm Palm Springs, CA, USA.
(Photo / Fig.: Arno A. Evers FAIR-PR)
Where was the progress during the Poster Presentations? Korea and Japan are far ahead, even before the United States and Canada. The "no show" portion (i.e. posters that have been announced, but were not shown) was rather high: around 20 percent. Here only blank screens could be seen.
In the exhibition area one could browse around and learn more about 120 institutions, associations, local authorities and also some commercial companies. Here, the representatives of test equipment again stood for the largest group of exhibitors. Actually, market-leading system companies such as Ballard Power Systems and Plug Power Corp couldn’t be found at all.
What was also missing was a "spirit of optimism" that I have experienced
in previous Fuel Cell Seminars. However, this was long time ago. The first
Fuel Cell Seminar was held in 1976 in Palo Alto, CA, as an event of the
Department of Energy (DOE) with 170 participants. The most important Fuel
Cell Seminar for my company and for the Group Exhibit Hydrogen and Fuel
Cells at the Hannover Fair has been the conference in Portland, Oregon,
USA in 2000. At that time, 13 companies confirmed their attendance as
exhibitors for the Hannover Fair in 2001. This was "the breakthrough" for
us. But times are changing. Which is not always a bad thing, however. A
man / woman grows with his / her responsibility…
Wind farms in Palm Springs - taking a close look
"What do you need to operate one or even several wind farms successfully,
not only in California but worldwide?", asked Ken Huskey, a member of the
American Wind Energy Association and expert guide at the P. S. Windmill
Tour guests, as he and his small white bus left Palm Springs, CA, towards
the north-west. A good question and Mr. Huskey had the answer, quite
American, of course, at hand: "First: money, second: infrastructure, and
third: wind!" Here he was absolutely right. On his tour, Ken commented in
a very informative way, how it works.
Money you need for the investment in the windmills, from those in
Palm Springs, right and left of the eight-lane Interstate 10, several
thousand are erected. Different sources are estimating between 3,000 and
4,500 of them. The installed power of the individual installations is
between 65 and 1,000 kW per hour, 1,500 kW per hour are expected in the
future. However, many of them are already milling for almost 30 years, the
investment in these mills should be more than amortized by now.
With infrastructure, Ken meant something, which I even did not notice
during my first visit to the wind park in Palm Springs in the
mid-eighties: the spatial proximity to
high tension power lines. Fortunately, through the San Gorgonio Pass Area
several power lines are running in parallel, especially for the
electricity supply of Greater Los Angeles. As infrastructure, according to
Ken, it also counts that you as an investor or operator (which not always
has to be the same) have someone as "customer", to buy off the windy and
even fluctuating power, which also has to be transformed up to the best
minute, hour or day prices. And a stroke of luck for the investor /
operator / large customer (and possibly also for the sponsoring
politicians) should government assistance programs be available. That wind
is essential for the operation of a windmill or even a wind farm, is
However, one should also look closely. More than once, it are not always
the physically most suitable areas which hosts the area with the largest
wind farms of a
region. At this point one and two of Ken Huskey came to fruition. Sometimes
political "conditions" prevent or accelerate the physically real wise and
economic use of wind energy. Sadly that is the case all over the world. It
should not necessarily remain that way. When asked about hydrogen or fuel
cells, Ken Huskey said: "Many have tried it, most have given it up! Maybe
it is too complicated!" What a pity… Maybe one day we can bail him out!
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