Thinking Ahead in the Tailwind: A Windpower Retrospective


In 2005 TreeHugger published dozens of posts on wind power. Looking back, we wondered how much real progress was made? The print media was so focused on wind farm controversies, objective metrics were hard to find. Ken Silverstein, EnergyBiz Insider Editor-in-Chief, summarized the progress in a recent newsletter: "High gas prices and a concerted effort to curb global warming are breathing new life into the wind industry. About 2,500 megawatts of wind power have been added to the United States' generation mix in the last 12 months, which equates to roughly 9,200 megawatts of total generating wind capacity here". A modern nuclear plant would operate in the 650MW area, so 2005 saw wind capacity additions that would be the rough equivalent of 14 brand new nuclear stations in terms of peak cumulative output. Can you imagine the international scandal that would have erupted if the US had worked on that much new nuclear capability while trying to pressure a few other nations to add none?

Ken's wrap was bolstered with some insights from EnergyPulse.

"...Wind power, which generates energy without using fuel, provides a hedge against rising energy costs because wind energy production is immune from fuel price spikes".

And as for the homeowner paying high gas bills: "... The U.S. currently burns about 13 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas for electricity generation, which means that by the end of the year wind power will be reducing natural gas use for power generation by 4-5 percent".

Sure, it's still subsidy driven. But what power plant isn't?

We think 2007 looks to be another banner year for wind. While the pundits look the other way, while broadcast and print media focus on projects stalemated over bogus property value disputes, more power is coming from the wind. And it's the only action we've seen that could eventually be a help for low income people worried about their gas bills.