Day One: Something Good Getting Better
June 4, 2007 (Los Angeles Convention Center)
The American Wind Energy Association and the wind energy industry’s resplendent array of can-doers.
The market has decided. Do you see the trend? (click to enlarge)
WINDPOWER 2007, the biggest wind energy conference and convention ever, anywhere.
June 3-6, 2007
Los Angeles Convention Center.
- Surprisingly, news can be good. Really. Wind energy is growing as fast as it humanly can. Not bleeding, won’t be leading anywhere but the investment news. But wind energy has advocates, investors, technicians and planners and they are all as busy as they can be, ready to get busier, and nobody’s complaining about peak wind. Really.
- Multinational corporations are vying for power and control. International law firms stand ready to attack and defend them. At the same time, individual small wind operators are growing in number, their systems are becoming more economically viable and they’re getting together to beat government bureaucracy.
- Machinists, engineers, electricians and chemists are working to perfect turbines and transmission. As fast as they can. Pitch controllers, torque measurers and lubrication experts are helping. Executive headhunters and community college jobs-programs are recruiting for a whole new category of jobs. One of the problems is where to post the opportunities. Check AWEA's job board.
- Most people who have looked at Big Wind, like sprawling rural wind farms and huge offshore installations, and Little Wind, like commercial building projects and housetop turbines, agree: Wind’s EROEI is positive. That makes it a winner in a world of waning oil.
- Cape Cod hasn’t resolved itself to wind but Hull, Massachusetts, is putting in 4 5-megawatt offshore turbines, the local hotel owner thinks they will be a tourist attraction, and the community is going to use the extra electricity for a sea desalination facility. Even the Audubon Society agrees the birds and bats are safe, though everybody remains vigilant against necessary adjustments to protect them.
- Offshore installations have more durability problems than was initially thought, but some of the best scientists and engineers are ironing those out. The Germans used something called a “swimming crane” to place a 1200-ton turbine in the Beatrice field off Scotland where Boone Pickens’ oil fields ran low.
- There isn’t enough transmission but, as BP Alternative Energy and Power America President Robert Lukefahr said, “Transmission is a technical challenge, not a technical problem. It is a political problem and an economic problem.” The country needs to deal with that and, too slowly, will. “Does anybody not realize the United States' electrical system needs to be rebuilt?” enXco CEO and veteran energy expert Jim Walker asked rhetorically.
- Yes, climate change is worsening and greenhouse gas emissions are going up but the renewable energy industry is booming and more people every day are realizing wind and solar are viable big-energy industries, great investments just a few billion dollars short of being serious solutions. So, surprisingly, the news is good.
Carl Pope of the Sierra Club and Actor/Activist Ed Begley, Jr., discuss wind's role as a solution for global weirding
- “Good for the bottom line. Good for the environment. What could be better than that?”
Actor/Activist Ed Begley, Jr.
- “A new energy economy is being born…play with the future…let go of the past…”
Carl Pope, Sierra Club