The global growth rate in renewable energy generation is well known. Wind power capacity has expanded from 24.8 gigawatts (GW) to 371.8 GW in 13 years. Simultaneously, solar power capacity has increased from 0.9 GW to 175.4 GW.
As the installed generating capacity has been built up, significant technical advances have been made as the world has gained greater scale, investment and experience. These technical advances have, in turn, reduced costs significantly for renewable energy power generation. Wind and solar costs have declined more than 80 percent in the past 20 years.
These gains will allow renewable energy to reach or exceed cost parity with conventional power plants over the next five to 10 years, leading to a sustainable path for renewable energy without the current government supports, which include renewable generation targets, tax credits, feed-in tariffs, low-cost financing and other subsidies.
Many of the technical capabilities contributing to the advancement and competitiveness of solar and wind generation lie within the consulting and engineering services firms in the marketplace that have evolved during this expansion. One such firm is AWS Truepower, now a UL Company.
Based in Albany, N.Y., AWS Truepower has participated in the assessment and development of more than 120,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects in more than 80 countries. While more than 90 percent of those have been wind projects, AWS Truepower is experiencing high-growth rates for solar projects as utility-scale solar becomes more of a reality.
Through hands-on experience in working on these projects, AWS Truepower has honed its technical capabilities in these areas:
- Project Development Services—consulting for wind and solar project development support and policy planning
- Performance Engineering—plant performance analysis and optimization, and power curve testing
- Due Diligence Services—independent engineering for financing, acquisitions and divestitures
- Information Services—resource maps, data sets and wind farm analysis and design software
- Grid Solutions—grid integration solutions and white-label forecasting subscriptions
Many of these services are crucial in the early phases of power generation project development for demonstrating the financial viability of projects to investors. “Developers raising capital and lenders seeking to finance projects rely upon AWS Truepower’s technical and commercial expertise, along with its understanding of the intricacies involved in project finance,” explains Jeffrey Smidt, VP & GM, UL Energy & Power Technologies. “The acquisition will fill key gaps in our portfolio by bringing in new capabilities that will benefit our customers.”
As power plants are privately owned in many parts of the world and inevitably will change owners over their operational life, a well-maintained and well-operated power plant is critical to holding its asset value. AWS Truepower’s technical services not only support project development, but the entire lifecycle necessary to maximize performance and value.