WindPower 2007 Underway in LA

John Davis

windpower1.JPGAttendees to the American Wind Energy Association’s annual conference going on this week in Los Angeles heard that their industry faces quite a challenge to go from the current 1% of U.S. energy supplies to President Bush’s goal of 20% by 2030. In fact, it could be a half-billion-dollar challenge.

This article from Reuters says delegates are trying to figure out how to reach that goal:

That would mean by 2030 there will have to be 325 gigawatts of installed wind turbines in the United States, said Michael Robinson of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Current wind turbines can make between 1.5 and 3 megawatts per tower. A large natural gas or coal-fired power unit is often 400 megawatts and larger, while only five U.S. wind farms now have more than 260 megawatts of installed capacity.

“From this vantage point, it looks almost impossible,” said Robert Lukefahr, president of BP Alternative Energy North America. “But you have to remember that we’ve made big leaps before.”

Lukefahr said over the next 15 years wind power is the least costly and easiest to develop alternative to coal and natural gas. Beyond that, Lukefahr said he could not be sure what will be in store for alternative energy.

Indeed. Consider the fact that wind power grew in the U.S. by 20 percent last year to light up the equivilant of three million homes… and it’s expected to take a similar leap again this year.

About 7,000 people are attending this year’s conference… and that’s up from 5,000 last year and only about 1,000 in 2001.