Wind energy is an up and coming technology in the U.S. and central Illinois. Attendees of the International Farm Management Association 17 Congress (IFMA 17) got a chance to learn more about this current, complex energy issue. Andrew Young, CDO of Horizon Wind Energy, addressed the IFMA 17 Congress today in the Brown Ballroom at Illinois State University. Young’s presentation outlined the wind energy industry, the company itself and the current policies and incentives in place to help grow the industry.
Horizon Wind Energy is the company that manages the wind farm located in McLean County. The Twin Groves Wind Farm is located five miles east of the Central Illinois Regional Airport. The wind farm produces 396 megawatts of clean energy per year enough to power around 120,000 homes in Illinois. With over 240 massive turbines the Twin Groves Wind Farm is one of the largest in the country.
One of the main factors in starting a wind project is getting land owners to sign on to the project. The ideal placement for wind farms is on open range and actively cultivated farm lands, thus relevant to many of the attendees of the IFMA 17 Congress.
Young also stressed the challenges that exist to furthering the wind energy industry in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. energy grid system is not structured to support the full potential capacity for wind farming technology. Lack of connection to the grid has tabled some wind farm projects in areas that are ideal for wind technology. Also, tax credits and incentive programs are another main factor in funding and starting a wind farm project, Also, community opposition and difficulty in obtaining permits can slow a wind project.
Ultimately, tax incentives are critical to wind energy’s success. At the end of the presentation, a man from Australia wondered what the growth of wind capacity would be in the U.S. without tax incentive programs from the government. Young responded, “Very slow, since every form of energy is subsidized in the U.S., there would be no way that this industry could grow without this program.”