Wind Power Industry Takes a Breath
Wind Energy Facts
Renewable Energy Resources
During the first part of 2009, the wind power industry took a breath, pausing to reflect on its recent growth spurt.
Reading industry sources such as the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) reports makes the current state of wind power look rosy, with a golden future.
Apart from attributing the current pause in wind energy growth to a lack of financing, due primarily to financial market problems, the AWEA reports that the United States now leads the world in wind energy production, due primarily to the extraordinary growth of wind power in Texas.
While current wind energy production capacity accounts for one per cent of total electricity generation, potential onshore and offshore wind energy plans could push that number to twenty percent or more in the next couple of decades.
Moving away from the industry perspective, and looking at the numbers behind the wind energy production numbers, provides additional insight into the wind energy industry that adds an element of depth to current reflections on wind energy issues.
Proponents of renewable energy in general, and wind energy specifically, tout its environmental friendliness, compared, for example, to the use of fossil fuels. While little debate on that point exists, some numbers regarding current wind generated electricity suggest that some wind energy producers use that point to mask some bigger wind energy problems.
Consider the following two posts from a professor, Michael Giberson, who teaches about energy economics at Texas Tech:
Negative power prices in ERCOT West - 2009 so far, discusses the fact that rather than being sold on the open market in Texas, wind power companies often have to pay utilities to take their wind power. The wind energy companies recoup those losses with taxpayer subsidies, which translates into American taxpayers paying Texas electricity consumers to waste electricity.
Environmental benefits and the production tax credit for wind power looks into the claims of the wind power industry's environmental friendliness. An examination of some recent statistics shows that in some cases wind power electricity generation does replace the less environmentally friendly coal powered electricity generation.
On the other hand, there are also instances where wind power electricity generation replaces either natural gas or other wind power sources, rather than coal, which negates wind's environmental claims.
As the wind power industry pauses to consider its future, it's also a good time for rethinking the next phase of renewable energy policy and production in order to strengthen the assurances that renewable energy production actually delivers on its promises of providing dual solutions to energy independence and a cleaner environment.
© 2009. Patricia A. Michaels