Much has already been written on the transformative power of wind energy – revitalising declining towns and harbours with new employment and industry.
Sweetwater, Texas, is no exception. Texas leads the US for wind energy installations, with 9,410 MW of installed capacity at the end of 2009. The wind turbines that now dot many of the wide Texas plains have brought money and as many as 10,000 jobs to the Lone Star State, reports the latest Wind Directions.
Signs of this new “wind rush” are everywhere near Sweetwater — from the ubiquitous turbines, to the cover of the local phone book that features a galloping horse and a turbine, to the local newspaper that promotes wind turbines as part of its logo, to the corporate identity of Sweetwater town itself.
There’s a great deal of exposure and chatter on the internet these days to two recent North American newspaper columns that are highly positive of wind power when it comes to public health issues.
One of the columns, published 26 November in The Oregonian, noted that “in fact, with no air or water pollution emissions, wind energy is essential to reducing public health impacts from the energy sector.”
Written by scientists Robert J. McCunney, Robert Dobie and David M. Lipscomb, the column went on to say that “while there are legitimate issues worth debating with regard to wind energy development, public health impacts are not among them.”
With under a month to go, the competition to win a weekend in Copenhagen or the Swiss Alps as part of EWEA’s Breath of Fresh Air campaign is growing fierce. One of the strongest contenders for a prize is 26 year old Bruno Mignogna from Molise in Italy, who works at the national agency for Energy and the Environment (ENEA) in Rome. He told us why he decided to adopt a turbine and tell his friends about it.
Why do you support wind energy?
In 1998, the first wind turbines were installed close to where my grandfather lived in the region where I come from, Molise. (The turbine I adopted on www.ewea.org/freshair is one of these). Since then I started studying how wind energy works, and during my studies I saw many wind farms being put up, with turbines that got bigger and bigger!
While many of the EU’s environment ministers are still dithering over a possible move to 30% emissions cuts, it is heartening to see that big businesses are a step ahead.
29 companies, including BNP Paribas, Google, Unilever and Vodafone, have put their names to a declaration calling for tougher climate targets that has been sent to the EU institutions. The declaration supports recent statements from ministers from Denmark, France, Germany and the UK that higher emissions reductions will boost growth and create jobs, a point of view made forcibly by EU Commissioner for Climate Change Connie Hedegaard at an EWEA-organised debate last week in Brussels.
Ironically, the organisation BusinessEurope, which represents EU employers, was claiming almost at the same time that increasing the EU’s emissions reduction target would be “premature and even counterproductive” in a letter to the Belgian EU Presidency. It seems that some in the business community are more far-sighted than others in recognising the huge economic and job creation potential of zero-carbon technologies like wind energy. Certainly EWEA, which has 650 members including many businesses, believes an increase to 30% emissions reductions is crucial for Europe’s economy as well as its environment.
Offshore wind energy has an “important” role in helping the EU to meet its 2020 renewable energy target, Hans Van Steen, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s department for energy said on Tuesday.
Some 40 GW of offshore wind energy should be online by 2020, with the majority being in the North Sea, he added, speaking at an event called ‘Offshore renewable energies: exploring the synergies’ in Brussels as part of the European week of regions and cities.
The 40 GW figure chimes exactly with EWEA’s target to have a minimum of 40 GW of offshore wind energy by 2020.