We’ve all seen the facts and know the data. Wind power is hugely popular (80% of 18-34 year olds believe renewables like wind are the preferred approach to solving our nation’s energy problems). And wind is meeting a growing portion of America’s energy needs (there’s 61,000+ MW of wind energy capacity installed in the U.S. – equal to 111 coal plants!). Oh, and it’s finally affordable too. Wind energy ranges from $0.07 per kW/h to $0.10 per kW/h, making it cost-competitive with traditional energy resources.
But even though it’s increasingly clear that wind is popular, working and inexpensive, there’s more to the story than just pennies per kilowatt-hour and gigawatts of installed capacity.
At WINDPOWER 2014, the annual conference and exhibition for the U.S. wind industry held recently in Las Vegas, there are thousands of industry workers, experts and innovators who are proving one thing: wind power is transforming America.
At a time when America was mired in recession and jobs were scarce, wind energy jobs grew. In fact, the number of wind manufacturing facilities in the U.S. went from 30-40 in 2004, to more than 470 at the end of 2011. That’s transformation – just ask Michigan yacht manufacturer Energetx. When the recession hit and composite yachts stopped selling, CEO David Slikkers looked around for a way to save his business, and landed on wind power. Just last year, Energetx’s transformation was complete as the spin-off company sent out its first shipment of 150 foot long, domestically manufactured turbine blades. David’s new company currently has 100 employees and he estimates that, "Getting in line with these supply chain processes could mean somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 to 400 additional jobs for Michigan."
The industry is transforming through innovation as well. ACORE member company General Electric (GE) announced at WINDPOWER a cumulative 3.9 gigawatts of U.S. orders since January 1, 2013, and the expansion of its brilliant wind platform. The brilliant wind turbine platform is an engineering marvel, providing a 25% increase in efficiency and 15% increase in power over GE’s older platforms. This means more uptime for wind farms, and more power to the customer, lowering costs and increasing reliability.
At WINDPOWER this year, ACORE partnered with member Morrison Foerster to host an event that brought together many of the top dealmakers, developers and financiers of wind energy projects across the nation. The event was standing-room-only, with over 350 in attendance – providing more evidence of the excitement and drive behind the wind industry in 2014.
As America continues to move toward new, innovating and exciting solutions to our energy challenges, we must continue to transform our technology – and our thinking – about how to get the most out of our energy system. Wind power and other renewables like solar, hydropower, waste-to-energy and more will all play a key role. ACORE has always been committed to helping to bring these transformative solutions to market – but we’ve never been more excited than we are today.