The Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has launched a savvy effort to raise the profile of renewable energy in the marketplace: It has partnered with a number of high-profile firms and manufacturers to place a ‘Windmade’ label on consumer goods that were produced with at least 25% wind power.
The goal is to provide an additional incentive for companies to use clean energy. And consumers routinely say that they’d be willing to pay a premium for goods made using clean, alternative energy like wind or solar. Of course, it’s also an effort to raise the profile of wind power in general, to show that its prominence is on the rise (and ultimately, spur more investment in Vestas turbines).
The New York Times Green blog has the details:
Companies including Motorola Mobility, Lego, Deutsche Bank and Bloomberg L.P. signed up to use a new trademark, WindMade , to show that at least 25 percent of their electricity was generated by wind power. The brand is sponsored by Vestas, a wind turbine manufacturer. The company hopes to develop a widely recognized industry trademark akin to the Fair Trade and Organic labels.
Fair Trade and Organic have been consumer success stories, and have helped fuel the rise of ‘eco-conscious’ groceries and cafes (though the quantifiable impact of both labels in terms of environmental benefits and wage improvement is a little less clear). The hope is that a label for wind power could do the same.
The biggest hurdle: Getting the ‘Windmade’ label on enough products to influence consumer choice. ‘Fair trade’ and ‘Organic‘ work mostly because the labels allow (a small subset of primarily affluent) people to feel good about themselves when they buy one kind of coffee or fruit over another. You’d need to have a ‘Windmade’ alternatives to toasters, TVs, toys, electronics, etc, for it to become truly influential and not just a novelty.
And it seems less likely to work in many scenarios: It’s harder, for instance, to imagine someone buying Legos over GI Joes because one was made with wind power. These labels seem more effective with ‘premium’ goods, and they can help illustrate to the buyer that he’s purchasing a superior product that otherwise looks and feels the same. My fear is that the label will have less impact on more observably distinct goods.
But enough naysaying. This is an effort to expand the reach of wind power, and that’s a worthy endeavor. I really do hope that it increases the profile of wind power in the marketplace, and leads folks to buy goods that are manufactured more responsibly -- and more manufacturers to support wind energy.