Carpinteria, California-based Clipper Windpower and Electrica del Valle de Mexico, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), on August 7 announced the signing of a long-term agreement to supply Clipper’s 2.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbines for EDF EN wind energy projects.
An initial set of 27 Liberty turbines– 65 MW worth– will be used to generate clean, renewable power for companies owned by subsidiaries of Walmart de Mexico. Due for completion in summer 2009, the first project is sited at La Ventosa, one of Mexico’s windiest areas, located in the State of Oaxaca’s Istmo region, according to a media release.
Harnessing the wind at La Ventosa
The La Ventosa project will be the first in Mexico to make use of multi-megawatt wind turbines. The 2.5 MW Liberty turbines– the largest manufactured in the Americas– are being built at Clipper’s 330,000-square feet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
EDF EN is a well-established player in the renewable electricity generation market. It is active in nine European countries, as well as in the U.S. and Mexico, and does business in four renewable energy sectors: wind, solar, biomass and hydro. Its gross installed capacity totaled 1.443 MW worldwide as of the end of 2007 – 80% of it wind power– and it has another 1,100 MW under construction.
Clipper is intent on building a wind power industry player that can compete globally. On July 30 it announced it was joining with BP Alternative Energy in a 50-50 joint venture to develop the Titan wind project in South Dakota– at 5,050 MW the largest in the world announced to date. The JV entered into a Master Turbine Supply Agreement to purchase as many as 2,020 Liberty wind turbines subject to successful phase development stage completion and other conditions.
Walmart, now supply chain partners catching the wind
The renewable power being purchased by subsidiaries of Walmart in Mexico is one of the few concrete indications of U.S. corporations’ commitment to using renewable power, not only in their own operations, but by promoting and facilitating uptake among supply chain partners.
Walmart’s keen on wind, as well as solar, power, to the point where it has established its own power company, Texas Retail Energy, to supply electricity to its stores in Texas at wholesale rates. According to a Dallas Morning News article this saves the company around $15 million per year.
Deregulated electricity markets such as those in Texas and New York make it more attractive for retailers and other commerce-driven companies to invest in renewable power, Chris Hendrix, Walmart’s manager of energy procurement and Texas Energy’s general manager, told attendees at a Gulf Coast Power conference. .
“Historically utilities did not offer special contracts to commercial customers as they did for industrial customers,” Hendrix said. “A couple of deregulated markets – Texas and New York – are better than others,” he went on. “They both have in common: Liquid and deregulated wholesale markets; competition from third-party suppliers for customers’ business; [and] regulatory leaders with the foresight that full-fledged competition is the best model.”