Obama’s faith in emissions-free wind power will create more green electricity

» By | Published 22 Jun 2010 |

US President Barack Obama’s belief that wind power and other renewable energy sources can help cure America of its addiction to expensive, polluting, imported oil has been translated into a $200-million stimulus grant that will help further expand a Washington State wind farm.

The cash grant is from the Department of Treasury through the American Recovery and Reimbursement Act. It will allow California-based Cannon Power Group to begin a third phase of its Windy Point/Windy Flats project in rural Klickitat County in southeast Washington.

“This grant constitutes a significant recognition of the increasingly important role renewable energy development has for our country — not only in terms of producing clean, safe and domestic energy for our citizens, but the enormous economic impact and jobs it provides for our local communities,” a Cannon press release quoted Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire saying last week.

“I applaud President Obama for his vision and leadership, and I am proud that the state of Washington is home to a project that is helping spur billions of dollars in private ‘green’ investment and creating thousands of jobs,” Gregoire added.

Gary Hardke, Cannon’s president and managing director, also commended Obama for making renewable energy development in the US a priority. “As an American-based company,” said Hardke, “we are up to the challenge.”

The company says it has already spent in the past 18 months close to $1 billion on the existing 400 megawatt project along the Columbia River. Cannon says that upon completion, the 500-MW wind farm near the Oregon border is expected to create electricity for about 250,000 homes and displace each year more than 800 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. It has been said that it will become one of the largest wind energy facilities in the nation.

The expansion will add over 250 new jobs, providing $32 million in community benefits to the local area over the life of the project, Cannon says, adding this is in addition to the more than 350 jobs and $145 million in overall economic benefits created by the 400 MW the company has already installed.

Cannon says it already has at least 3,000 MW of wind projects in Europe and western North America.


Lighting up the poorest communities

» By | Published 21 Jun 2010 |

By guest blogger Sarah Azau, EWEA

For most Europeans, the renewable energy question revolves around the economic and environmental benefits offered by sources like wind and solar power. But for many poorer citizens of the world, who live miles from an electric grid, renewables can make the difference between being able to light their homes and living in semi-permanent darkness.

One such community can be found in the tiny village of Cuajiniquil, Nicaragua. The village, which can only be reached by foot, is perched on the top of a row of hills, making it a perfect spot for a wind turbine.

EWEA’s chosen charity, the Koru Foundation – which works to provide renewable energy to communities in need – certainly thought so. In May 2010, after a year of preparation with a local project partner, it installed a 1kW wind turbine in the village. For the last month, the villagers have had electric lights for the first time ever.

“It has really made a difference to everyone!” enthuses Daily, who lives in the village and, thanks to a Koru-provided training session, is now responsible for the maintenance of the turbine. “Before, we only had kerosene lamps which smoked and made people ill; now, each household has four lightbulbs powered by the turbine”.

“40% of Nicaraguans have no access to electricity, so projects like this one are essential”, explains Neil Jeffery, CEO of the Koru Foundation.

“When it is completed, not only will the villages have light –one even already has a TV! – but the turbine will also power a pump to bring them fresh water from the newly-built well.”

In mid-June, I spent three days in Nicaragua visiting Koru’s projects and finding out more about their work. A full account of the trip will be published in September’s Wind Directions.


Students in Texas enjoyed learning about the many benefits of wind power

» By | Published 18 Jun 2010 |

About 50 junior school children from Grand Prairie, Texas who completed a two-week course on wind power learned about Global Wind Day, turbines and offshore wind farms, according to Kyle Damon, who organised the unique program.

Damon, a science and technology facilitator at David Daniels Elementary, said the students who were between 8 and 10 years old used reading, writing, mathematics and science to understand wind power.

“It was everything wind,” Damon said in a telephone interview with the European Wind Energy Association. “Everyone enjoyed it.”
The students learned about the history of wind, the power-generating industry, turbines and pitch, he said, adding one group of students even built a model offshore wind farm in a tray of water.

“The kids loved [the course] and the teachers had fun with it.” Damon said the idea for the course came about because the wind power sector is becoming such a large industry in Texas.

Earlier in the week, Global Wind Day was promoted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) which urged citizens to lobby Congress to pass a “Renewable Electricity Standard” as a way of attracting the investment required to continue the growth in wind power and other renewable energies.

Among other Global Wind Day-related events, AWEA highlighted five highly beneficial facts that wind power offers the US, which is, after China, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels.

“Global Wind Day is a great opportunity to underscore that wind works because it is vital to our nation’s economic, energy, and environmental security,” Denise Bode, AWEA CEO said in a press release. “With our ‘Five Wind Facts,’ we hope to encourage more citizens to get involved in the campaign to increase America’s use of wind energy, and to call on Congress to pass a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard as part of energy and climate legislation.”

The association noted that wind power creates a significant number of new jobs, offers financial help to farmers and rural communities, provides long-term stable electricity prices for consumers, is an inexhaustible and reliable generation source, and mitigates environmental degradation by reducing greenhouse gasses caused by destructive fossil fuels.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the US wind power sector installed nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2009, enough to serve over 2.4 million average American homes. The 9,996 MW installed last year expanded the US wind plant fleet by 39% and brought total wind power generating capacity in the nation to over 35,000 MW.

GWEC also notes that wind energy is now operating in 36 of the 50 US states, with Texas the leader with more than 9,000 MW of total installed capacity.


Global Wind Day in Italy – over 80% of Italians want more wind power

» By | Published 17 Jun 2010 |

Some 87% of Italians are in favour of more wind energy in their country, new research unveiled on Global Wind Day at an event in the Villa Borghese in Rome showed. Economic development and job creation were among the top reasons cited for their positivity.

“At Global Wind Day we want to reiterate the importance of renewable energies as one of the key solutions to the economic and climate crisis,” Edoardo Zanchini from Legambiente, an Italian environment group, said.

In another piece of good news for Italian-produced wind power, Simone Togni, Secretary General of the Italian Wind Energy Association, announced to an audience gathered for Global Wind Day in Rome that by 2011, wind energy will provide electricity to 10 million Italians.

By 2020, wind energy will meet 7% of Italy’s energy needs, saving 19,250,460 tonnes of CO2 a year and 37,770,559 barrels of oil, he estimated.

During the first half of 2010, the sector employed 1,000 more people compared to the previous year, bringing the total number of jobs in wind energy in Italy to 25,530 – a growth that continues despite the economic crisis, ANEV said at the event.

”This is the outcome of many years of hard work and the recognition of an energy that moved from being marginal to being a mass producer of electricity,” Oreste Vigorito, ANEV President, said.

From bike tours through wind farms to a kite-surfing contest, Global Wind Day attracted attention across the whole of Italy.


Global Wind Day is celebrated in Canada on the northern shores of Lake Erie

» By | Published 16 Jun 2010 |

Wind power creates sustainable energy, spurs on the economy by providing new jobs and helps reduce stresses on the environment, Stephen Molnar, the mayor of Tillsonburg, Ontario, said during a Global Wind Day tour of the Erie Shores Wind Farm.

“Actually, it’s been an extremely valuable experience,” Molnar said in a telephone interview with the European Wind Energy Association.
Molnar and other politicians were part of a tour Tuesday of the four-year-old Erie Shores facility in southern Ontario, which is described as being one of the largest wind power facilities in Canada, representing nearly 3% of the nation’s installed wind capacity.

Organised to celebrate the second annual Global Wind Day, the tour was proudly hosted by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), which quoted in a press release another local mayor as saying her nearby municipality has benefited greatly from wind energy.

“We sought this opportunity to bring positive change to our region, and have benefited from job creation and increased tax revenues, new tourism and our local farmers now have another source of income,” Lynn Acre, mayor of Bayham, which is home to the Erie Shores Wind Farm, was quoted as saying.

The press release also noted CanWEA President Robert Hornung said it is important to celebrate Global Wind Day in Canada.
“Wind energy is now being produced in every province and we expect wind energy’s rapid growth in Canada to continue with production quadrupling in the next five years,” Hornung said. “With its unparalleled wind resource, large hydroelectric capacity, strong manufacturing base and linkages to the US market, this country has an incredible opportunity to maximize the economic, industrial development, and environmental benefits associated with wind energy.”

A growing number of analysts in Canada, which is the second largest nation in the world and has a population of more than 33 million people, are promoting emissions-free wind energy as a solution to the country’s need for increasing amounts of green electricity.

According to the federal government, fossil fuel combustion is the main source of three major air pollution problems — climate change, acid deposition and urban smog. Canada ranks 27th out of 29 OECD nations in terms of energy use per capita, the government says. Canadians annually consume 6.19 tonnes of oil equivalent per capita. This is almost double the OECD average of 3.18 tonnes of oil equivalent per capita, and more than five times the world average.