Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wind Energy Continuing to Grow Globally

Since moving to Minnesota, I've been thinking a lot about wind energy.  This new focus has come in part because the highest onshore wind capacity in the United States, as depicted in this National Renewable Energy Laboratory map, is a strip up the country's middle.  Also, as I've been increasingly frustrated by the polarized dialogue about climate change, it's been exciting to observe MISO, the Midwest's Regional Transmission Organization, experimenting with how to get intermittent renewables (with a focus on wind) better integrated onto its grid.

But wind power is not simply a dynamic industry in my region of the country.  The Global Wind Energy Council released new statistics last week indicating that despite the bad global economy,

the wind industry installed just over 41,000 MW of new clean, reliable wind power in 2011, bringing the total installed capacity globally to more than 238,000 MW at the end of last year. This represents an increase of 21%, with an increase in the size of the annual global market of just over 6%.  Today, about 75 countries worldwide have commercial wind power installations, with 22 of them already passing the 1 GW level.  

This continued expansion of the renewable energy industry globally gives me some hope for the energy transition we need to make to have a cleaner, more secure future.

Hari Osofsky

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I hope cheap fracked gas doesn't continue to erode the financial viability of wind energy.

Posted by: Lance N. Long | Feb 16, 2012 7:40:46 AM

Indeed, Hari. Next week at Vanderbilt we will host a conference on renewable energy, focusing on its demand side challenges and its supply side bottlenecks. On the supply side, wind turbines and the new transmission lines needed to move energy to population centers, most of which are not where the wind is, are going to strike many people as undesirable land uses. Also, as this map of bird flyways suggests (, we're in for some conflicts between the ESA and wind power, which is the topic of my current project on Harmonizing Wind Power and the Endangered Species Act. JB

Posted by: J.B. Ruhl | Feb 16, 2012 6:05:05 AM

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