Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, may be the victim of its own success in the renewable-energy quest for mainstream market share. The state’s wind-power industry has been growing like a summer storm.
You could call it utility-scale renewables 3.0. The previous two phases focused on getting large solar arrays and wind farms up and running (1.0) and then boosting their output (2.0). Today, developers are looking beyond just adding more rows of panels or bigger turbines to their plans.
Gone are the days when the thought of wind power in some far-off land was strictly a quaint endeavor. Tourists will always have their photo ops of rustic windmills on the farm in Holland or rural Kansas, for that matter.
New Year’s Day brought wind-energy developers a belated holiday gift when Congress included in its fiscal-cliff budget deal a one-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) that helps wind farms operate profitably.
In march 2011, immediately following the triangular disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor, Japan promptly shut down all of the nation’s 54 nuclear reactors.
In the ongoing national conversation about the role of clean, alternative sources of power, various measures exist to gauge the success of these industries in grabbing a bigger share of our nation’s total energy consumption.
It should come as little surprise that the surGE inrenewable power and the high-tech revolution have occurred at roughly the same time. Both thrive on innovation and the general trend toward doing more with less.
America’s wind industry built 5,115 megawatts (MW) of wind power last year, barely half of 2009’s record pace, but entered 2011 with more than 5,600 MW under construction. With wind being cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, utilities are moving to lock in favorable rates.