News

Wind Power, a Great Reserve

It is estimated that the world's consumption of energy will increase by 60 percent over the next 20 years. Today half of U.S. electricity is generated by coal, which is responsible for over 80 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, a main contributor to global warming. The search is on for alternative energy sources. VOA's  Zuli Palacio reports that one answer is blowing in the wind.  Melinda Smith narrates our story.

The wind power industry is growing rapidly: it has increased 23 to 30 percent in each of the last five years. It is clean, abundant, ever-renewable, and free from producer boycotts or embargoes.  

Randal Swisher is the Executive Director of the American Wind Association. He says, "Certainly we have an enormous wind resource of wind in the U.S., equivalent to Saudi Arabia oil reserves, except the wind is not depleted over time."

Today only one percent of U.S. energy comes from wind. It provides more than 20 percent of Denmark's energy. The U.S. hopes to match that within 20 years. But there are many obstacles to making wind power a true alternative to oil. Industry experts say inconsistent government policies have discouraged investors. 

And there are not enough transmission lines to get the power generated by wind onto the grid, says Edward Duggan, the Vice President of Oak Creek Energy Systems. "If we had the transmission lines we could immediately make 20 percent more electricity.  However, on the land that we have here we could more than double our output by installing new turbines."

In Washington D.C., the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Andy Karsner, says there is a bottleneck in energy transmission. "There is a greater dilemma now, that we immediately face, which is how to move the wind (power) from the windiest, most valuable, effective places to locate the actual wind farms to the load centers or the cities that need that power -- and that is a transmission dilemma that has to be addressed."  

There are also political objections to wind power, according to Jim Johnson, the Operations Engineer at the National Wind Technology Center in Denver, Colorado. “Today the obstacle over all is not technical, it is political … Wind by far is three to four times more cost effective than any of the other technologies still." 

Part of the political problem is that established energy industries, such as petroleum, do not want competition. Another is that many people do not want to live near wind turbines, which they consider unsightly, loud and harmful to birds and other wildlife.

So wind farms, as they are known, are in places like the Tehachapi desert in California. About a dozen wind companies have operated here since the 1980s. This is the oldest and biggest wind farm in the U.S., concentrating over 5,000 wind turbines that use a wide range of technology. 

The largest and newest is 150 meters tall, and produces 2.5 megawatts of electricity.  Its blades are about 45 meters long and weigh about 10 tons. It is highly productive, even during low winds.

Michael Burns is a mechanical specialist with Oak Creek Energy. ”That's the computer down here at the corner…."

Entire wind farms can now be controlled, monitored, and diagnosed by computer.

"…I am monitoring all the turbines, approximately 50," points out Burns.

With oil and natural gas prices rising rapidly, the political climate for alternative energy development seems to be gaining momentum in the U.S.  More than 22 states have ordered their traditional utility companies to diversify into alternative sources of energy. 

Linda White is Director of the California Wind Energy Association. She tells us, "In California we have a renewable portfolio standard.  Which is legislation.  Utilities by 2010 and by 2020 will need 10 to up to 20 percent of renewable energy in their portfolios.  Which is substantial, and that is putting this industry and this technology on the map.  It is here to stay."

Ten years ago people might have laughed at that kind of statement. Not today.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs