Concerned about how society will manage its energy needs without using fossil fuels? Back in the 1960s, Buckminster Fuller predicted that by the year 2020, wind and solar would be our main sources of energy.
Wind is perhaps the most overlooked source of energy generation. In fact, the United States has some of the best wind resources in the world.
Wind turbines give utilities an attractive energy solution with minimal environmental impact. And most impressive, a wind farm can be online, generating electricity, in a matter of months, while it takes years to establish a coal-burning or nuclear power plant.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. wind industry installed more than 2.4 gigawatts of new wind capacity last year; the Renewables division of General Electric supplied 764 of its 1.5-megawatt wind turbines, representing 45 percent of the country’s new wind capacity.
Each of G.E.’s wind turbines is 213-feet high. The blades collect the energy, transmit it to torque, which is then transformed into energy that can used by the generator. The bigger the rotor, the more wind can be harvested, so we are now seeing giant wind turbines at sea.
During the course of 20 years, a 100-megawatt wind farm will displace the need for nearly 1 million tons of coal, or nearly 600 million cubic meters of natural gas. Through the use of G.E.’s installed wind turbines, as much as 11.4 million tons of greenhouse gases will not be emitted each year.
More than 86 percent of the world’s wind generation capacity is divided between Europe (72 percent) and the United States (14 percent). In the United States, wind-generated power now represents less than 1 percent of U.S.-generated electricity.
The European targets for wind power growth are substantial. Wind is expected to deliver 33 percent of all new electricity generation capacity and provide electricity for 86 million Europeans by 2010. By 2020, China expects to generate 30 gigawatts of electricity annually, enough to power millions of households.
From The Herman Trend Alert, by Joyce Gioia-Herman, strategic business futurist.