Building on this natural bounty, it now seems likely that the state will soon be home to North America’s largest wind farm — as many as 1,000 turbines generating up to 2,500 megawatts of emissions-free electricity for 30 years.
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In recent months there have been many media articles claiming that wind energy is more expensive and less reliable than other power sources, and that it receives heavy government subsidies. Such claims damage the perception of this cheap and clean form of energy.
The reality is that wind energy, and renewables in general, are successful because investors see that onshore wind is increasingly competitive with new gas and coal and is cheaper than nuclear, in an environment in which governments have made commitments to reducing carbon emissions, and where the public wants a safer, cleaner world without constant fluctuations in energy prices. Current data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says that “funding of green energy projects rose by 5% last year” to $260bn worldwide. Another Bloomberg quote says “the best wind farms in the world already produce power as economically as coal, gas and nuclear generators; the average wind farm will be fully competitive by 2016”.
In the latest example of cities getting behind wind power and other renewable energies, Shanghai has announced it might spend as much as €2 billion in the next four years to increase its capacity of green energy, with more than half earmarked for onshore and offshore wind farms.
Shanghai, the largest metropolis in China with 23 million residents, said in a statement that the money would play a key role in achieving a civic target of 1% of energy use coming from locally-developed non-fossil fuels.
Offshore wind energy is an innovative new industry, which by creating thousands of jobs and intensive investments gives Europe a necessary impulse for economic growth. It can also provide the missing pieces in the energy and climate puzzle that Europe needs to solve urgently. What I brought home from EWEA OFFSHORE 2011 – the world’s largest offshore wind energy event – was the feeling that the next decade will be crucial for bringing down the costs and filling some gaps to make this type of energy production a really competitive one.