Every year the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) holds a convention, bringing all the major players in wind industry together in one spot for a couple of days. It gives our sales team a chance to catch up with their contacts, and our Engineering team a chance to meet face to face with customers and suppliers on current projects, but it also gives people like myself a great opportunity to keep an eye on what is changing in the wind industry. This year's big theme was Offshore Wind, though an ever popular topic at these shows is extending turbine life and/or reducing maintenance.
One of my favorite parts of the show, and an underrated section, is the poster displays. This is where Individuals doing research in the field such as graduate students, other R & D engineers or research firms display a poster briefly covering their study and findings. This year there were at least 6 posters relating to offshore including one by Caitlin Fornash, a grad student from Oregon State. I had the unique opportunity of running into her by the poster presenting her work. She was able to give a more thorough overview of the offshore wind industry and the strides they've made over the past few years with an outlook on what to expect in the future. This is where the real value of the show is, making connections with even some of the most unlikely of people who all have in-depth knowledge of their particular field, and sharing that information.
One change this year I really enjoyed were the presentations, which were usually held in conference rooms away from the main exhibit hall, being held right on the main exhibit hall floor. This allowed easier access and better attendance for the presentations. Two that stood out to me were a presentation by GE on their new Haliade 6 MegaWatt offshore turbine design and a panel discussion on the feasibility of forty year turbine life. Each presentation I attended ended with Q & A giving them a more intimate and casual feel.
Overall, the show was a good experience. Once again knowledge gained at the AWEA show helps shape our design to better fit the current and future demands of the industry.
R & D Engineer