Has the Sheen Been Blown Off Wind?

With recent Exxon Mobil ads relegating wind to less than one percent of future energy use and recent introduction of legislation to restrict wind farms by Senators Alexander and Warner, has the sheen been blown off wind? – Haley R, Winchester, Virginia

No, quite the opposite is true. “The World Energy Outlook 2004” released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that under the IEA’s “Reference Scenario,” electricity generated from renewable energy will increase by a factor of six. The global wind power industry installed nearly 8,000 MW of new wind turbines in 2004, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Europe continued to dominate the world wind power market, installing 5,774 MW that accounted for 72.4 percent of the growth in 2004. Total world wind capacity is now at 47,317 MW. United Kingdom’s Sustainable Development Commission is about to release a report that concludes wind power is a better alternative than nuclear energy for addressing climate change. The commission’s 176-page report, to be published shortly, concludes that “wind power, along with other renewables, offers the only truly sustainable domestically sourced option for electric generation over the long term.” The Commission was financed by the pro-nuclear Trade and Industry Department, and it concludes that wind energy is quiet, economic and cheaper than nuclear power. Again in May, the Sioux City Journal reported that the Iowa House passed tax credits for alternative energy producers, primarily benefiting wind. The bill, approved on a 79-16 vote, awarded tax credits to small alternative energy producers and is on its way to Gov. Tom Vilsack for signature. Iowa facilities that produce less than 2.5 MW of power from wind, biomass, hydrogen or other alternative sources are eligible for tax credits starting in July 2006. And in April and May, new short fact sheets were released highlighting the emissions reduction, energy and jobs, and local rural development assets of wind, The Wind Powering America Fact Sheet Series issued: Improving Regional Air Quality with Wind Energy which provides an overview of how electricity generated from zero-emission wind energy can help states and municipalities improve air quality, achieve attainment of Clean Air Act standards, and reduce pollution control costs for taxpayers — and provides a case study about the purchase of wind energy by Montgomery County, Maryland. And also, Wind Energy Benefits sheet highlighting today’s rising coal and gas prices, and how new wind plants compete favorably against any new electricity generation source, and succinctly describes the top ten benefits of wind energy, including the growth of new jobs and tax revenues. And finally, a Rural Economic Development Case Study describing how the Tjaden family of Iowa pursued Dept of Agriculture program Section 9006 funding in pursuit of a wind turbine for their family farm. While there are clearly challenges to some wind projects, the future is looking quite solid for offshore, larger grid-tied, and small on-site wind generation than ever before. – Scott Sklar
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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