Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wind Power Maturing?

It appears, as this story from Fast Company reports, that wind power may actually be maturing as an industry, with China leading the way, and—if true—is very good news.

An excerpt.

“Despite earlier setbacks, wind power may have reached a tipping point. This morning we learned that Google (of all companies) is investing up to $200 million in infrastructure to support a massive wind farm 10 miles off the East Coast that will be operational in 2016. And approval was granted just last week for the first offshore wind project in the U.S., a $1 billion 130-windmill affair off the coast of Cape Cod. Earlier this year the U.K. granted licenses for nine offshore projects, which could generate up to 25% of the country's energy needs. And tiny Portugal, which has had large offshore windfarms since 2008 and opened a new onshore facility in May this year, has the second highest wind-power mix in the world.

“In light of this massive expansion in wind power generation, Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council have been looking at the state of the wind-powered generating industry around the world, and have predicted how wind energy usage may evolve over the next 20 years in a new report out today. Their finding: 20% of our energy needs could be powered by wind inside 20 years--and China will lead the way.

Do we believe it?

“Among the numerous statistics in the study, there are two stand-out conclusions: In a best-case scenario, rapid uptake of wind tech by many countries around the world could result in between 11.5% and 12.3% (about 2,600 terawatt-hours) of global electrical energy needs. Continued uptake could see this figure expand to 18.8% to 21.8% (around 5,400 terawatt-hours). Even a very conservative scenario would see 4.8% of our needs met inside the next 10 years--equal to Europe's energy consumption.

“There's one simple eco-conclusion to be drawn from these figures: If the world really embraced wind power, 34 billion tons less carbon dioxide would be added to the atmosphere by 2030--that's more than the entire world's current level of CO2 output for a year, and the savings would obviously be ongoing into the future.”