As reported by EIA’s Energy in Brief

Worldwide wind power generation exceeded 200 billion kilowatthours in 2008, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of over 18 million average households in the United States. Wind generation increased by about 25% from 2007 to 2008, and has more than tripled since 2003. This growth is mostly due to capacity increases in the United States, China, India, and Western Europe. Despite this growth, the world still generated less than 1% of its total electricity from wind power in 2008.

Line chart showing the increase in wind electricity generation by region from 1980 - 2008. Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Pie chart showing the contribution to global wind generation in 2008. United States 25.1%; Germany 18.5%; Spain 14.5%; India 7.2%, China 6.2%, United Kingdom 3.3%; Denmark 3.2%; Italy 3.0%; France 2.6%; Portugal 2.6% and Rest of World 13.9%. Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Bar graph showing the share of total electricity generation from wind in 2008. United States 1.3%; Germany 6.5%; Ireland 8.6%; Spain 10.4%; Portugal 12.6% and Denmark 19.2%. Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Did You Know?

A feed-in tariff is a financial incentive that encourages the adoption of renewable electricity. Under a feed-in tariff, government legislation requires electric utilities to purchase renewable electricity at a higher price than the wholesale price. This incentive allows the renewable generator to achieve a positive return on its investment despite the higher costs associated with these resources.

Did You Know?

Because the wind does not blow 24 hours a day and because the timing of it cannot be controlled, electricity from wind is not available on demand. Although wind makes up a significant portion of Denmark’s generation capacity, the intermittent nature of wind has been mitigated by the connection of the Danish electrical grid to the grids of Germany, Sweden, and Norway. These interconnections allow Denmark to export electricity when wind power generation exceeds demand and import electricity when there is not enough wind.

The United States Generated the Most Wind Electricity in 2008

Overtaking the previous leader Germany, the United States led all other countries in wind power generation in 2008. The remaining top-ten wind power generators, listed in descending order, were Spain, India, China, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and France. Although about 60 countries reported significant wind power generation in 2008, these top-ten countries accounted for more than 85% of all wind generation worldwide. Wind generation in China has grown an average of 70% annually since 2003, in spite of delays in bringing some of its new capacity online.

Denmark Generates the Highest Percentage of its Electricity Supply from Wind

Nearly 20% of Denmark’s electricity generation came from wind in 2008. The next highest levels of wind penetration are found in Portugal at 13%, Spain at 10%, Ireland at 9%, and Germany at 7%. No other country surpassed 5% penetration, including the United States, which generated over 1% of its electricity from wind in 2008.

Less than 2% of Global Wind Capacity is Offshore

According to the World and European Wind Energy Associations, installed global wind capacity reached 159,000 megawatts by the end of 2009, with only about 2,000 MW of that total located offshore. Offshore development lags behind onshore generally due to higher costs and technology constraints. Western Europe is home to nearly all existing offshore capacity — although prototype turbines for China’s first offshore farm were connected to the grid in 2009. As of June 2010, there are no operating offshore wind farms in the United States, although the 420-megawatt Cape Wind offshore project off the Massachusetts coast had secured local, State, and Federal approval as of April 2010.

Wind Power Generation is Expected to Continue Growing

Over the lifetime of the plant, electricity from wind power generally costs more than electricity from power plants burning fossil fuels.1 However, wind power is expected to continue to grow worldwide because of favorable government policies. Multiple types of government support exist, including a production tax credit and State renewable electricity portfolio standards in the United States, a feed-in tariff (see the “Did You Know” box on the left) in Germany, and wind capacity targets in China. According to EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2010, wind generation is expected to account for more than 3% of total world electricity by 2020.

by Jane Burgermeister, European Correspondent Vienna, Austria []

The world needs a one-off switch-over to renewable energy — and this could be largely accomplished in just forty years time, slashing energy costs and greenhouse gases while allowing healthy economic growth, experts say.

By 2050, 80 percent of the world’s electricity could be coming from renewable energy sources provided efforts are made, in parallel, to improve energy efficiency, according to a study by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). That means, the children of today might well grow up to experience a world where the energy they use comes almost entirely from the sun, wind, sea and biomass.

By 2090, the shift to renewable energy around the world could be almost 99 percent completed reducing pressure on the environment and laying the foundations for a new era of prosperity based on green energy.

Also, the short-term financial costs of switching over to renewable energy will be outweighed by the long-term financial benefits, according to the study. In fact, the projected savings to be made by not using the amount of coal we do today could amount to US $15.9 trillion by 2030 alone — a sum that would pay the whole US $15 trillion bill needed to switch over the entire world to renewable energy power sources once and for all.

The accumulated savings of a switch-over to renewable energy by 2030 could be as high as US $18.7 trillion or $750 billion a year, according to one DLR scenario.

The DLR estimates that the world today spends approximately US $2 trillion on its electricity supply, which comes primarily from fossil fuels. However, it calculates that this cost could rise to almost US $9 trillion by 2050 on current trends of soaring oil and coal prices as well as the rising cost of dealing with the environmental impact of carbon emissions. However, if the world largely completes its switch over to renewable energy by 2050 and introduces energy saving measures in parallel, the bill for the annual electricity supply will only be about US $4 trillion a year — a savings of $5 trillion.

Consumers could also be faced with more affordable or even no energy bills once installation costs for renewable energy micro-generators and weatherization have been met, ushering in a new era of energy self sufficiency for householders.

The goal of obtaining 80 percent of our electricity from renewables is achievable even if the world, including China and India, continues to see high economic growth, says the DLR.

The Energy [R]evolution Report commissioned by Greenpeace International and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) also outlines a scenario that would see a fairer redistribution of the burden of cutting greenhouses around the globe. Under the DLR plan, America and Western Europe would decrease their high per capita energy use by switching over to renewable energy and introducing energy saving measures as soon as possible while countries such as China and India would initially slow down their increase in energy demand before starting the switch-over to green energy.

This would bring the western industrialized and the non-western countries closer together in terms of the amount of energy they consume by 2050, although even using this “scissors” approach North America and Western Europe will still be using far more energy per capita than India or China in 40 years time.

 The DLR study has also put forward an action plan that would see 32.5 percent of the world’s electricity supply coming from renewable energy by as early as 2020. Until 2020, the current spectrum of renewable technologies such as wind power, hydro power and biomass are expected to play a key role. After 2020, by contrast, new technologies generating abundant and low cost clean energy are expected to become available and to play an increasingly important part in the world’s green tech mix.

Technologies like dye-sensitive solar cells and thin-film photovoltaics are being developed rapidly and present a huge potential for cost reduction. Also, major innovations in geothermal and ocean wave technology can be expected as research in these areas increases in the future.

The DLR study says that there has to be a drastic reduction in primary energy demand for the world to switch to largely renewables by 2050. The introduction of a raft of energy saving measures will ensure that there is only a slight increase in the total primary energy demand from the 474,900 petajoules [roughly 30 million kilowatt-hours], in 2005 to 480,860 petajoules in 2050, compared to 867,700 petajoules In 2050 without such energy efficiency measures.

“Smart power” will improve the efficiency of buildings and transport, and the DLR predicts that the city centers of the future, for example, could be producing power and heat as well as consuming it. The buildings will have photovoltaic facades not only for energy production but also as an element of architectural design. Solar thermal collectors are set to produce hot water in the networked cities of tomorrow where energy comes from a variety of sources, large and small in scale.

 In addition, the DLR predicts that the energy supply system of the future will move from the large and centralized one of today’s world towards a much more decentralized one, based on a wide mix of energy sources. These will be tailored to the geography of a particular region to optimize its specific and unique potential.

 According to the DLR, solar photovoltaics, followed by wind power, concentrated solar power and geothermal, have the highest potential for development from technologies currently available.

 To study notes huge amounts of energy currently wasted from cooling towers could be harnessed for co-generation.

A further piece in the puzzle to create a world powered by renewable energy is to make the transport sector more efficient by switching over to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy sources and also by building up public transport system.

 Government legislation will have a vital role to play in facilitating the energy revolution according to the DLR. It recommends that governments phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy; put a cost on carbon emissions and so take into account their damage to the environment. Also, governments should introduce strict energy efficiency standards and legally binding targets for renewable energy as well as increase the budgets for research into renewable energy and energy saving measures.

 If all goes according to plan, the DLR predicts that by 2050, around 77% of electricity will be produced from renewable energy sources and a capacity of 9,100 GW will produce 28,600 TWh/a of renewable electricity in 2050.

 In the heat supply sector, the contribution of renewables such as biomass, solar collectors and geothermal will increase to 70% by 2050. The study estimates that 56% of primary energy demand will be covered by renewable energy sources by 2050 when energy efficiency potentials will have been largely exploited. As a result, primary energy demand will stabilize at 2060 levels. The proportion of renewables to cover this primary energy demain will continue to rise.

By 2070 over 93% of electricity will be produced from renewable energy sources, with whatever gas-fired power plants remaining in use serving as a backup for power. By 2080, about 90% of primary energy demand will be covered by renewable energy sources and by 2090 the renewable share will reach 98.2%. By 2100, a capacity of 23,100 GW will produce 56,800 TWh of renewable electricity or 17 times more than today.

Our Perspective:

I found this to be a very interesting article. I am in the midst of reading a book by Thomas Friedman…Hot, Flat and Crowded. Anyone interested in the learning more about the true obstacles we face in meeting our growing energy needs should read this book.

We have been living in a world of abundance that is supported by finite fossil resources. As our demand grows, the resources diminish.

What happens when the demand continues to grow and it reaches our resource capacity? Are we prepared to meet this challange?

Steps must be taken now to address these issues. If planned properly and implemented, we can expect a smooth transition. Failure to act can prove to be very detrimental.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email

The Solar Mandate

August 19, 2008

 Marburg Journal

As reported in NY Times


 German City Wonders How Geen is Too Green

Published: August 6, 2008
MARBURG, Germany — This fairy-tale town is stuck in the middle of a utopian struggle over renewable energy. The town council’s decision to require solar-heating panels has thrown Marburg into a vehement debate over the boundaries of ecological good citizenship and led opponents to charge that their genteel town has turned into a “green dictatorship.”

Rolf Oeser for The New York Times

Old and new coexist in Marburg, where a hilltop castle overlooks a solar-powered building. The city seeks to expand solar use.

Rolf Oeser for The New York Times

Some Marburg residents are concerned about how pending solar rules will affect historic buildings like these in the city center.

The New York Times

Officials in Marburg face opposition over a solar initiative.

The town council took the significant step in June of moving from merely encouraging citizens to install solar panels to making them an obligation. The ordinance, the first of its kind in Germany, will require solar panels not only on new buildings, which fewer people oppose, but also on existing homes that undergo renovations or get new heating systems or roof repairs.

To give the regulation teeth, a fine of 1,000 euros, about $1,500, awaits those who do not comply.

Critics howled that the rule, which is to go into effect on Oct. 1, constituted an attack on the rights of property owners. The regional government in Giessen stepped in and warned that it would overturn the rule.

City officials in Marburg said, in turn, that they would take their case either to administrative court or all the way to the Hessian state capital, where they would try to get the state building code changed to protect their ordinance from officials in Giessen.

In the middle of this political chess match sit homeowners like Götz Schönherr.

From his deck, Mr. Schönherr can see the town’s famous hilltop Gothic castle as well as two of its three power-generating windmills. On his roof, a solar panel glints in the sunlight. He already uses the solar energy to heat his water, which has allowed him to turn off his boiler for roughly six months a year, a boon for his pocketbook but a decision he said he made for the sake of the environment.

And yet Mr. Schönherr opposes the new ordinance.

Mr. Schönherr had hoped to reinsulate his home, but to do so, and to satisfy the solar regulation, he would have to install a larger solar panel. It would cost him close to $8,000.

“That leads, in my case, and I would think in other cases as well, that people say, ‘Well, let’s just not reinsulate the roof,’ ” Mr. Schönherr said. “So it’s absolutely counterproductive.”

Officials in Giessen agree. “We have no problem with the use of solar energy,” said Manfred Kersten, press spokesman for the regional government in Giessen, “but this was a poorly constructed ordinance.”

Germany is one of the world’s top champions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy. Thanks to hefty federal subsidies, the country is by far the largest market for photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity.

Marburg, a historic university town where the Brothers Grimm once studied, is a model of enlightened energy production and consumption. In addition to the windmills and solar installations, the town’s utility company buys hydroelectric power from Austria, is transitioning its fleet of buses and other vehicles to natural gas and even lights footpaths with solar-powered lamps.

As a result, the Marburg dispute sometimes feels like an argument between the enlightened environmentalists and the really enlightened environmentalists.

“Marburg is already a leader when it comes to the use of solar energy, but up until now they’ve always tried to convince people rather than forcing them,” said Hermann Uchtmann, the opposition politician behind the “green dictatorship” charge who leads a local citizens political group, the Marburger Bürgerliste.

Like Mr. Schönherr, who is a member of the group, Mr. Uchtmann hardly fits the predictable mold of the Luddite opponent of renewable energy. He is a chemist at the local university who once built a solar-powered desalinization station for the town’s sister city, Sfax, Tunisia.

“It’s unfortunate that they decided to compel people, because I think you breed opponents that way rather than friends of solar energy,” Mr. Uchtmann said. He said he found the demands too invasive for existing homes, especially in the case of older citizens who might not live long enough to justify the upfront costs of installing the solar systems.

“I’m right up against the border myself,” said Mr. Uchtmann, who is 64. But he said he could support a solar-heating requirement for new buildings.

Because the town of 80,000 has a level population and relatively few new homes are built here, restricting the measure to new construction would not go far enough for the politicians behind it.

“We have a serious energy problem with the older homes,” Marburg’s deputy mayor, Franz Kahle, said in an interview at the historic town hall on the city’s colorful market square. To make a real leap forward, he said, a dramatic step was necessary.

“Before, solar installations were the exception and their absence was the rule,” Mr. Kahle said. “We want to get to the point where the opposite is the case.”

He pointed out that building codes constantly dictated what property owners could and could not do with their homes and said that the solar regulation already offered exceptions for cases of hardship or alternatives for those living in the shadiest spots.

Marburg’s law has attracted attention nationwide as a model for environmentally active politicians.

“What they are doing in Marburg is good and progressive, and we, and other cities, need to move forward with similar initiatives as well,” said Birgit Simon, deputy mayor of Offenbach am Main and a member of the Green Party. She said she hoped a coalition of left-of-center parties in the state Parliament could change the building codes to make the Marburg ordinance sustainable and imitable.

Among Marburgers interviewed one sunny afternoon this week, there was near universal support for the ordinance’s goals but an almost equal level of confusion about its exact nature.

“In principle, it’s a really good idea,” said Cornelia Janus, 35, who works at the university. But she questioned whether the costs might be too high and whether historic buildings and monuments would be protected.

“For a city like Marburg,” she said, gazing toward the churches and the castle arrayed along the hillside, which draw tourists from around the world, “that’s pretty important too.”

Our Perspective:

To help encourange people to participate in these programs not only do you have to tout the benefits but many times incentives must be added to provide the initial boost and make it more affordable for those who wish to participate.

If electricity is currently costing 14 cents /kwh and you are willing to make an investment in alternative energy, you are hoping that the investment will help to lower the overall cost. If electricity cost you 18 cent / kwh after making the initial investment the incentive is lost.

Mandating compliance can present a big problem. Without the incentives, many people may not be able to afford to the investment. 

Let us know you thoughts? You may leave a comment or email

TRIMONT, Minn. — One would hardly know it driving down Main Street, but this tiny prairie town surrounded by corn and soybean fields is at the forefront of America’s fight to wean itself off oil.

Wind Farm

Giant turbines in this southern Minnesota cornfield harness the wind, generating enough power for 29,000 homes.

(Scott Mayerowitz/ABC)
More Photos

Long before gas topped $4 a gallon or Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens embraced renewable energy, a group of farmers here banded together to build a massive wind farm.

Today their vision is paying off.

At the edge of town, 67 giant turbines — each taller than the Statue of Liberty — rise above the landscape, producing enough electricity to power 29,000 homes throughout the state and providing the farmers and local government with roughly $2 million a year. And it’s just the beginning. Soon, a second phase of the project will be online — doubling the number of towers — and a third phase is already being planned.


So how did this town of only 754 residents, where the local radio station includes the price of cattle and corn in its news updates, land on the forefront of the nation’s energy solutions?


Trimont manager Rick Mattioda stands in front of a turbine blade about to be installed.


It was part geography, part luck and part foresight by a few local farmers.

Trimont sits at the southern end of Minnesota, a few miles north of Iowa. The flat land spreads out in every direction, broken occasionally by a farmhouse or grain elevator.

Strong winds pass easily across the prairie, making it an ideal location for commercial-scale, wind-power generation. But strong winds aren’t enough.


Trimont, a small town in the heart of the prairie, is home to an annual chocolate festival and a yard-of-the-month contest sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.

The best places to capture a strong and steady wind — Minnesota, the Dakotas and Iowa — are far away from the population centers that demand the most electricity. To get power from the Great Plains to, say, Chicago or Denver requires a large network of transmission lines that simply doesn’t exist.

Trimont was lucky: It already had one of the power transmission lines running through town.


All that was missing was a vision. And that’s where local farmer Doug Scholl came in.

“It was his idea that instead of sitting here waiting for a major wind developer to come to us … to instead take matters into our own hands,” said Neal Von Ohlen, a fellow farmer who helped start the project and now oversees the farmers’ interests. “I didn’t know anything about wind. I was just a landowner-farmer. But it seemed intelligent.”


The Growth of Wind

Wind will never be the solution to all our energy problems. Supporters say that in two decades the country could generate at least 20 percent of its electricity with it.

Today, the biggest source of electricity is coal, accounting for nearly half of all power generation in 2006, according to the Department of Energy. Natural gas and nuclear power each accounted for another 20 percent, and hydroelectric another 7 percent. All forms of renewable energy — that includes wind, solar and biomass — accounted for just 2 percent of all electricity production. Compare that to Denmark, where wind makes up nearly 20 percent of country’s power needs.


Two workers for Iberdrola Renweables stand in front of turbine blades before installation.

Wind is the fastest-growing form of energy. Thanks to projects like the one in Trimont, the amount of wind power in the United States nearly tripled between 2003 and 2007.


Wind is on the forefront of the energy debate, thanks to recent record-high oil prices and an advertising and lobbying push by Pickens, who is spending $58 million this election campaigning for larger infrastructure investments. His company, Mesa Power, has already spent $2 billion to construct the world’s largest wind farm in Pampa, Texas.

“I’ve been an oilman all my life,” Pickens says in one of his ads. “But this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”


The turbine blades at Trimont are 384 feet off the ground; that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty.

But not everybody loves wind. For years, residents of Massachusetts have been fighting a proposal to create a wind farm off Cape Cod.

The key argument against wind is typically aesthetics. The towers are giant but quiet. They make about the same amount of noise as your household refrigerator, but they are tall, break up sweeping vistas and have lights at night to warn passing aircraft.


Iowa Lakes Community College instructor Al Zeitz shows a student around the top of a turbine.


“Some of the biggest tree-huggers are against it. I don’t see why anyone would be against wind power,” Von Ohlen said. “Some people, point blank, don’t like the looks of the turbine. My wife and I love the look.”

Wind is also bringing jobs.

The industry employs about 50,000 Americans, adding 10,000 jobs in 2007 alone, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade and lobbying group. By 2030 — if wind reaches its full potential — the industry could employ as many as 500,000 people.


The New Work Force

Jake Hansen grew up on a farm in the tiny community of Morgan, Minn., about 50 miles north of Trimont. Roughly 70 percent of the residents there graduate from high school but less than 10 percent hold bachelor’s degrees. The typical resident made $16,454 in 1999, according to Census data.

Hansen was home-schooled and “had no idea” what he was going to do until he heard a radio ad for a wind technician program at an area community college.

“I thought it sounded interesting,” Hansen said. “Farming or driving a truck are the only jobs around.”

But with wind, he said, “there’s so much future in it.”


Jake Hansen standing on top of one of the turbines.

Now, two years later, Hansen works at the Trimont project earning more than $20 an hour; that’s more than $40,000 a year plus overtime and bonuses.

With that salary he just bought his first house, at the age of 20.

Hansen has two other brothers. One is in school for law enforcement and the other works at Wal-Mart. He earns more than both of them.

After graduating from the two-year program at Iowa Lakes Community College, he had 12 job offers. (He also had an internship in between his first and second years at the college, which paid him enough to cover his second year of school.)

“It’s just your average 9-to-5 job,” Hansen said, “just 280 feet in the air.”


Downtown Trimont, Minn.

The college started the wind program in the fall of 2004. Back then, there were only 15 students and one instructor. Today, there are five instructors and more than 100 students. The college recently added another 16 slots for the upcoming school year. They were filled in just six days, according to school president Harold Prior.


A giant crane lifts a turbine into place in the second phase of the wind farm development.


The college even has its own working turbine. It’s not just used for instruction but actually generates power that is sold to the local community, providing about $150,000 a year to the school.


Opportunity Knocks

For the farmers of Trimont, the perfect opportunity presented itself in the spring of 2003. Great River Energy, a regional power cooperative, was looking for somebody to generate renewable energy for its customers.

Scholl managed to organize 50 different farmers to join the project; and submitted a bid to the power company. They were one of 65 proposals but ultimately won because of the site’s location and the local involvement. (Scholl has since died in a small-plane crash.)

“At first, the idea was, hey, this is going to be the largest land-owner wind farm in the country. Until you know the facts, it’s easy to dream big,” Von Ohlen said.

After they were awarded the project, the farmers realized that they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of a substantial federal income tax credit associated with wind power. They simply didn’t earn enough money. There were also major financial risks associated with the project. If a gear box went out or a blade broke, the farmers would be responsible for paying for its repair.


Neal Von Ohlen, a farmer who helped start the project, at his farm.


So they decided to bring in a large company to operate the facility. But because the farmers had won the right to sell the renewable energy, they held all the cards when negotiating.

“We had a lot of negotiating power in the first proposal,” Von Ohlen said. “We could have brought in anybody.”

The group eventually choose PPM Energy, which has since become part of Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish company that is the world’s largest provider of wind power.

As part of its deal with the energy company, the farmers got a noncompetitive clause. Neither group could develop a wind farm in the area without the other. Today they are preparing to go online with their second joint venture adjacent to the first project. And like the first one, the farmers will also get a share of the profits.

While there are 50 landowners in the first group, only 43 have turbines on their property. They can still plant crops right up to the base of the tower.


A view of the Trimont farm from inside one of the turbine towers.

The layout of the turbines — over the 8,970 acres — is based on a number of factors. Wind strength and consistency is key. But there are also a number of regulations about how far away a turbine can be from roads, homes and other structures. They also need to be a certain distance setback from other landowners who aren’t participating in the project.

In a traditional windfarm development, only the farmer with the turbine would get money through the tower lease payments. But Von Ohlen and the other farmers wanted their project to be different. The farmers with the turbines are still the only ones to get lease payments. But everybody who bought into the original project gets a share of the revenues based on how many acres they own.

The theory, by joining the project, you allow more turbines to be built, and you should still be compensated for that. Again, the farmers banded together to benefit all of them, instead of letting the power company decide — through tower placement — who benefits and who doesn’t.


The turbines create enough energy to power 29,000 homes.


In November 2005, the project started delivering energy.

Some projects have lease payments of $9,000 per tower, but at Trimont, the farmers get just $3,000 to $5,000. In most other projects, the payments end there. Here, there are additional land payments of $10 to $25 an acre, which are a share of the energy profits. Those payments help put the Trimont farmers ahead of other projects.

“We came up with a plan where everybody benefits regardless if you get a turbine or not,” Von Ohlen said. “It tends to make everybody happy.”

Our Perspective:

In finding energy independence we have to look at multiple solutions. There are places along the NJ coast that will provide great locations for these wind mills. I am sure PA also has some prime locations.

These farmers were thinking outside the box and provided a real solution that pays dividends. These are the steps we are all capable of taking.

To learn more about alternative energy solutions in NJ and PA email

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As reported in

Two years ago, under the auspices of the American Wind Energy Association, a group of us from the wind industry began working with the Department of Energy, General Electric, AEP, and many others to take a hard look at what it would take to get 20% of America’s electric supply from wind energy. The resulting report is helping lay the groundwork for a dramatic change in our approach to energy. For years, the wind energy community has argued that smart investment in transmission, siting, manufacturing and technology could allow wind power to take the main stage for our nation’s electricity. The report largely vindicates that belief, outlines the benefits, and illuminates the path to get there.

These past months have underscored the serious shortcomings in U.S. energy policy. $140 oil, $4 gasoline and run-ups in the cost of coal and natural gas are taking us to new price plateaus. Energy cuts across nearly ever issue that matters to our daily lives — economic well-being, national security, global climate change. As our energy woes devolve from concern to crisis, it is time we look more seriously — and honestly — for answers.

Renewables alone will not solve this crisis. Those of us with years in the industry know both the promise and limitations of renewable energy, and readily acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. But renewables can make an enormous dent in the problem. According to our report, a move to twenty percent wind would decrease carbon emissions from electricity by twenty-five percent. Twenty percent wind would support about 500,000 jobs in the U.S., 150,000 of which would come directly from the wind industry. Revenues to local communities in the form of property taxes and other payments would run more than $1.5 billion annually. Twenty percent wind would significantly reduce demand for natural gas, our most versatile and cleanest-burning fuel, which is incredibly valuable for heating, petrochemical production, transportation and other uses.

All of these things can be achieved.

Similar investment in solar power could mean an additional 10% of our energy could be supplied by the sun. And long term investment in increased energy efficiency, including cars that can be powered by electricity, will mean a substantial reduction in our dependence on foreign oil.

What will be required is a national commitment on the part of elected leaders and substantial investment by the business community. There are certainly constraints to our ability to multiply our wind farms at such a serious rate, but, as the study suggests, these obstacles can be overcome. Chief among them is the need for significant new energy infrastructure, especially extensive transmission lines.

We have reached a turning point. Wind energy is no longer the pet project of environmentalists. It is a serious business with serious players, including General Electric, Mitsubishi, Siemens, and many other global titans. It is also part of a real answer to some of the most serious problems we face. If we combine our efforts to expand renewables with strong efficiency standards and a substantial increase in conventional domestic energy production, we can be within reach of solving our energy crisis.

This is not the kind of quick fix that Washington so often hopes for while doing nothing in the interim. There are no quick fixes. If we are going to confront our energy crisis successfully, we have to be focused on the long game. In ten years we were able to take our wind energy company from a two-man operation to the multi-billion dollar business it is today. In a similar time period Texas has seen wind grow to the point where we get nearly 5% of our electricity from the wind. We can get a lot done when we set our minds to the task. A national commitment today will mean economic growth, good jobs, a safer country, and a healthier planet. It’s time to get moving. :

Our Perspective

The alternative energy markets are taking steps to become mainstream. Solar and Wind are becoming the new buzzwords.

The future is now!

To learn more about solar and wind opportunities in NJ and PA contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230.

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