Reviewing a year’s worth of work can focus the mind on important developments. That seems especially true for wind power, which in 2010 was embraced by, among other organisations, Ikea, Google, Bacardi and the US Army.
With those eclectic endorsements in mind, here are 10 developments from 2010 that have stuck with me:
1. Thumbs down to the US Senate for killing off a modest climate change bill due to partisanship and lobbying by narrow self-interests. Thumbs up, though, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who are both big promoters of wind energy.
2. Here, in my view, is the best quote of the year, direct, succinct and accurate. “Wind power really impacts the energy scenarios of today,” said Ingmar Wilhelm, executive vice-president of ENEL.
3. My favourite European politician? Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond for his relentless promotion of wind energy and other renewables as a way of driving a new green economy for his 5.1 million citizens.
4. Three well-deserved cheers for Ian Mays, the CEO and founder of RES who won this year’s Poul la Cour Prize for his 35 years of promoting the development of wind energy.
5. Greatest relief of the year? The annual UN climate change conference held in Cancun. Negotiators did not reach a binding agreement on reducing toxic greenhouse gases but they did advance the file in other areas. Cancun also provided some hope that a binding emissions-reduction agreement may be reached one day.
6. Kudos to the International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, which perceptively noted “fossil-fuel consumption subsidies amounted to $312 billion in 2009” while wind power and other renewable energies received just $57 billion of “government support.” Translation: renewables got just $1 for every $5 to $6 given to fossil fuels.
7. Best prediction? Wind power could meet 12% of international power demand by 2020 and up to 22% by 2030, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
8. Various studies reported no adverse medical effects have been associated with wind energy. One study noted that “with no air or water pollution emissions, wind energy is essential to reducing public health impacts from the energy sector.” Another noted that “independent studies conducted around the world consistently find that wind farms have no direct impact on physical health.”
9. Applause for the European Commission which in November published a communication saying €200 billion is needed to upgrade Europe’s gas and electricity grids over the next 10 years. A week earlier, another EC communication noted the European Union is unlikely to achieve its 2020 targets without regional energy investments in the order of €1 trillion over the next decade. The communications made a clear case there is no other choice if Europe is to remain competitive, finally have a well-functioning single energy market that can promote greater use of wind power and other renewables, and fight climate change.
10. And, last but not least, a tip of the hat to the EU and the Belgian Presidency’s commitment to offshore wind and its tremendous potential. That commitment culminated in early December with 10 nations signing a Memorandum of Understanding promoting the further collaborative development of offshore wind in the North Sea, the Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea.
So that’s it for 2010. Seasonal greetings and a Happy New Year to all.