Talking Twenty In Wind Power

on August 12, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Wind is in the forecast for the energy business, if advocates for the technology have their way.

Shrugging off criticism that double-digit targets for share of the country’s energy grid could be difficult to obtain, a panel of analysts this week showed confidence in the sector’s ability to reach a 20% target of total US power capacity by 2030.

Today four wind advocates offered their insight on the future of the wind industry in the United States, agreeing that it is on track to supply 20% of the country’s electricity by 2030. The four had significant confidence in the industry’s ability to reach its target and level the playing field in terms renewable energy sources.

“I think that 20-30% is a good figure for any one renewable source whether it be wind, solar, or geothermal,” said Head of Training and Development for the Americas Region for Siemens Energy Earl Walker. “I think it should be a nice blend.”

The ability of wind to replace coal was the subject of an editorial from the American Coal Council’s Jason Hayes on Breaking Energy.

The wind industry’s future was the subject of an Energy Collective webinar titled “Growing Wind Power: The Future of Wind and the Quest for Cleaner Energy.” Along with Walker, panelists included President of Orion Energy Michael Haas, Project Manager in the Environmental and Permitting Services at GL Garrad Hassan Ellen Crivella, and VP for Public Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association Peter L. Kelley.

Twenty Too Small?

Of the four, Kelley expressed the greatest support for the future of the wind industry claiming that if anything, 20% may be too small a target. According to Kelley, the industry is currently ahead of schedule and has a powerful argument to present to Congress in efforts to extend its use of tax credits.

Hass also agreed that 20% was an obtainable target, although he said only a small percentage of that would come from offshore sources due to higher costs. Instead, he predicted a change to a renewable portfolio standard and said focusing on transmission capacity would best help the industry.

“I think in the United States we are blessed with vast areas of onshore potential,” he said. “If we make better use of our existing transmission system, power plants, and grid I think we can add a lot.”

Walker commented on the growth of the job market within the wind industry, crediting the new specialized programs offered by colleges and universities.