Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Winding Up!

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has a report card. Think of it as the master report card of all the students (states) in the school (nation). This master report card system is a follow up to The Department of Energy proposed goal where 20 percent of U.S. electricity will come from wind energy by 2030. Want to guess the overall grade was for the U.S.? A solid “B” and “C-“ for Transmission and Integration.

Oh snap! Time to get started again on thinking outside-of-the-box, start applying for green collar jobs, and begin submitting for stimulus/grant money. It is not a shocker since for many years now, the government, green researchers and entrepreneurs have been putting blood, sweat and money into making cleaner, more efficient designs. For example, we clearly see influential signs of biomimicry introduced from Mother Nature to solve engineering problems. As with WhalePower, this company has redesigned the typical smooth blades on a turbine, by adding a series of ridges, (a.k.a. tubercles) which are the bumps on humpback whale fins. The company says this new blade design could increase annual electrical production for existing wind farms by 20 percent.

So entrepreneurs continue on with brilliant designs and what about the government? Our “report card” does not include progress on national policies to advance wind power. We are making these great strides and somehow forget about the rules and legislation for evaluation? That’s like forgetting about the teacher in the classroom. And the last time I checked our grid was overheating! (in more ways than one).

Please do not get me wrong. I am a big advocate for alternative technology (e.g. wind, solar and geothermal). However, energy legislation that addresses top issues such as transmission, planning, paying for, and setting new power lines is critical. While developing these technologies, we cannot forget we need to upgrade and improve the reliability of our existing transmission systems.

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