Floor traffic still seemed modest in the middle day (Wednesday) of the show but exhibitors seemed content that the right people were walking the aisles.
The day started with a keynote presentation by college professor at the Wharton School of Business and author of the book Contagious: How things catch on, Jonah Berger. His message was to suggest how the wind industry might tune its message so it caught on more – when more viral. We may be inflicted with what he referred to as the curse of knowledge – we know a lot and mistakenly think other people know what we know. They do not.
Word of mouth, he tells with no great surprise, is the most reliable way to get messages across because a person-to-person message is delivered with trust.
Berger then presented his six steps for conveying a message that might go viral:
- Social currency
- Practical value
- Stories, tell them
In a nutshell, show, don’t just tell what is remarkable about a wind turbine. Then he played a video from YouTube to illustrate his point, Willitblend.com. In it, a man in a lab coat puts usually unblendable objects in a heavy-duty blender to see what happens. In closing, he mentioned a workbook on his website, jonahberger.com to help tune our messages.
The audience was then introduced to Mike Garland, the new chair member for the AWEA Board. Garland proposed a 5-year extension to the PTC because there are other subsidies for fossil fuels such as the oil depletion allowance still in effect. We must plan transmission for the future and not the past, he said.
Speaking of transmission, Kyla McNabb with Oklahoma’s renewable-energy planning board would like developers to know that her state still has room for about 1,500 more turbines, especially in the Panhandle region. Clean Line Energy is nearing construction (2016, 2017) of their 3,500 MW transmission line that will start in the panhandle, cross the state, continue across Arkansas, and terminate in load centers in Tennessee. The transmission line will deliver Oklahoma wind generated power to points east. McNabb says that she has heard of PPA being signed for 2.5 ¢ /kWh and periods up to 10 years. She adds that wind is strong in her state, it has a workforce used to heavy industry, a robust supply chain, and a good training program.
In overdeveloped areas of the U.S., such as Tehachapi, Calif., there are older turbines, believe it or not, working without SCADA systems. SCADA Solutions and Craig VanWagner have an idea for keeping small wind farms from producing more than allowed. So the system would shut down these bout 50 kW turbines one by one and then bring them back online as other production wanes.
Of course, O&M ideas are now the mainstay of the Windpower events. One promising company, Hontek Corp., showed a sprayable or rollable coating for wind-turbine blades that has passed rigorous Air Force tests for 24 hours at 130 mph in a spray. The company coating, called ReNEW W-1100, was developed for helicopter blades that whip around in the dust of Afghanistan. Now the company is offering the coating for wind turbine blades. They say the coating is 3.5 times more sand-erosion resistant than the current best leading edge protection coating.
The day closed out with a visit and tour of the Siemens 40,000 ft2 training center. The company processes about 6,000 students through about 100 different classes each year. The facility is in Orlando because it is about equidistant from wind turbines in North and South America. These students will eventually take care of the companies 10,000 turbines scattered around the world. On the tour, we walked through a 3.0 MW direct drive nacelle.
Today, Thursday, marks the last day of the show. No morning presentations but the show floor is open from 9 am to 1:30 pm. And then, like the Olympics, it’s goodbye until WINDPOWER 2016 in New Orleans.