In the well known Greek myth, Icarus, attempting to fly with wings that his father had constructed from feathers and wax, ignores instructions not to fly too close to the sun, the wax melts and he falls into the sea and drowns. If the wind industry is to develop its full potential, it must ensure that the wings of its turbines are technologically advanced enough for them to be viable producers of energy both economically and sustainably. Feathers and wax will not do. Only the continuous improvement of rotor blades will allow the sector to tap into more moderate wind speed markets and enable off-shore wind farms to become truly cost effective.
A report out of Ames, Iowa suggests that wind turbines in farm fields may be helping crops of corn and soybeans to have increased yields because they can remain cooler and dryer in hot summer months while fighting off fungal infestations.
Preliminary findings of a months-long research program aimed at studying how wind turbines on farmlands interact with surrounding crops also raises the possibility that rotating turbine blades improve the ability of corn and soybeans to extract atmospheric CO2, a needed “fuel” for crops, according to a press release.
Pressure continues to mount on US lawmakers to use wind power and other renewables as a way of increasing the nation’s energy security, lessening its dependence on expensive, imported and polluting foreign oil, and creating a sustainable clean energy future.
A petition in the form of a 40-metre-long wind turbine blade arrived in Washington just before President Barack Obama and congressional leaders met on Tuesday at the White House to discuss energy policy.
A GE Energy press release said more than 6,000 people had signed the petition, which was delivered by the company and the American Wind Energy Association, as it made its way across 10 states to Washington.
“Manufactured in South Dakota, the wind turbine blade symbolizes how clean energy creates new U.S. manufacturing jobs in addition to providing clean power for America’s homes and factories,” said Vic Abate, vice president for renewables at GE Energy.
Destined to be part of a 1.5-MW wind turbine, the blade traveled more than 6,440 kilometres and was parked in front of the Nationals Park. It carried the message: “I’m helping to build America’s energy future,” issuing a call to Congress: Create More American Jobs by Enacting Clean Energy Policies This Year.
The press release also noted that one 1.5-MW wind turbine produces enough energy to power approximately 400 households. To generate the same amount of electricity as a single 1.5-MW wind turbine operating for 20 years would require burning 43,500 tons of coal or 138,000 barrels of oil.
Global Wind Day events in Brussels kicked off today with a conference at the foot of the 29.5m turbine blade in the middle of rond point Schuman. Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA, highlighted the fact that over the next few days around 220 Global Wind Day events will take place in 26 countries to celebrate and inform the public about the benefits of wind power.
At the conference EWEA also released its estimate for new wind power installations in 2010. Despite the ongoing economic crisis, the EU is set to have the same amount of new capacity this year as it did last year – around 10 GW.
“This is another strong year for wind power installations,” Kjaer said.
More striking is the fact that this year’s installations are based on orders that were placed during the financial crisis. New installations in 2009 were based on orders placed before the financial crisis.
Ingmar Wilhelm, Executive Vice President of ENEL – the sponsor of the blade exhibition – said that the crisis has helped “drive the industry to become more organised and efficient.” Wind power “really impacts the energy scenarios of today,” since it is now a mature energy source, he added.
Wind power has a “strong development path ahead of it. It will only improve its cost effectiveness and competitiveness,” Wilhelm said.
More good news for wind power: two countries have installed their first wind farms this year – Slovenia and Cyprus – making Malta the only EU country without wind power.
As for whether or not wind power will again top the table of new installed energy capacity (last year 39% of all new capacity was wind power, ahead of gas, coal and nuclear), Kjaer said it was “too early to tell.”
Global Wind Day – a worldwide celebration of the climate, energy and employment benefits of wind power – is fast approaching. With many events happening this weekend, check out www.globalwindday.org for a map of events and zoom in to see what’s taking place near you.
Here’s just a teaser of some of the happenings…
In Belgium, events include a feast of music and food will take place at an open day at the Dour Quiverain wind park on Sunday 13 June. Meanwhile, on the same day in Houyet you can learn more about wind energy and try out an electric car. For those of you in Brussels, there’s still a chance to visit the turbine blade installed in the middle of rond point Schuman.
Over in Denmark, a wind power exhibition will be installed on a large boat touring Jutland on 15 June.
A whole host of windy events are taking place in Ireland, from ‘touch a turbine’ on 12 June, to open days. Wind farm tours and music concerts under turbines are happening in the UK in a variety of locations and on a variety of days, check the list.
In Greece children can take part in drawing competitions, while football teams from companies and organisations can take part in the ‘green football league’ taking place on 12-13 June.
In Italy, events include wind and wine tours, kite surfing competitions and freestyle Frisbee competitions, while in Spain and Portugal there’ll be open days and workshops.
Outside of Europe there’s plenty going on. In Argentina there’s drawing competitions for children and wind farm open days, while in India there’s wind instrument music concerts.
This is just a small selection of events happening this month in celebration of Global Wind Day – from Japan to Germany much more is on the calendar. Be sure to check www.globalwindday.org for more information.
Are you going to a Global Wind Day event? Tell us about it by commenting below…