On May 12, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a report entitled “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030.”
The report, which identified the possibility of wind energy accounting for 20 percent of our nation’s energy supply by 2030, focuses on the need to develop large-scale wind farms, new transmission lines and an overall major expansion of the electricity grid system in the U.S.
In other words, it outlines a noble destination but maps, I believe, an incomplete course.
The federal government has done what the federal government typically does; take a look at what is perceived to be conventional wisdom, commission a study and celebrate the results as groundbreaking.
That’s a long way of saying I think they’ve got it wrong. The U.S. government, and the renewable energy industry in general, understand that there is a very real energy crisis. However, they desperately need to reexamine the utility-scale solutions that many see as the only answer.
Focusing solely on traditional means to generate and deliver electricity is the problem, not the solution. Utility-scale electricity, whether provided by fossil fuels or renewable sources like wind and solar, obviously has a role in our energy future. But there are other options.
A recent news story in San Diego is a perfect example of the many problems associated with the government-outlined strategy.
According to the Associated Press, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) has proposed to build “one of the world’s largest solar power operations in the Southern California desert and surround it with plants that run on wind and underground heat.” A visionary proposal to be sure.
Unfortunately, an electricity plant large enough to supply power to nearly 750,000 homes also needs to build a 150-mile transmission line. As you can imagine, while nearly everyone supports the development of the solar power plant, many are concerned with the additional transmission lines needed to distribute the power.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we need proposals like the one put forward by SDG&E. But I also believe that the inherent problems associated with utility-scale electricity generation and distribution are paving the way to new solutions.
The best way for communities, institutions and commercial enterprises to mitigate rising fuel costs and ensure less reliance on fossil fuels is to invest in on-site renewable energy generation assets that can work in conjunction with their traditional sources of power.
While solar energy has been an on-site energy option for years, new, state-of-the-art wind turbines are making it possible to harness one of earth’s most renewable resources, wind, without the need for large open spaces, massive propellers or an intricate transmission grid system.
The new generation of wind turbines makes distributive wind solutions feasible in urban areas and other settings where wind power is just not an alternative today. And micro-wind research is enabling applications and sites never before considered; meaning consumers, no matter where they’re located, have the potential to harness a new energy resource for themselves.
Wind Energy Corporation is a pioneer in this untapped commercial and community distributive energy market. “Distributive” means providing power directly to, and under the control of, consumers and businesses. While the government is focused solely on large wind farms designed to sell electricity into the overtaxed national power grid, Wind Energy Corporation is bringing an alternative wind energy solution to the marketplace.
Though obviously part of the answer, the sole solution to our energy needs can’t simply be large wind farms located in high-wind areas and the construction of thousands of miles of new transmission lines. Using distributive solutions, in virtually any environment, and putting wind energy directly in the hands of individuals, gives people the power to lower their costs and improve the environment.
In 1943, Thomas Watson at IBM said “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” In 1975, Bill Gates’ vision of having a computer in every home launched a new era in information and communication worldwide. Our vision of every community and commercial organization being energy independent is facing the same magnitude of skepticism — and can have the same magnitude of global impact.
Jim Fugitte is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elizabethtown, KY-based Wind Energy Corporation, a manufacturer of wind turbines for the commercial and community wind market designed to operate in urban areas as well as other sites with low wind speeds. Mr. Fugitte received a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Kentucky, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and completed the Graduate School of Retail Bank Management at the University of Virginia where he continues as a Bank Financial Management instructor for two weeks each summer.