This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

May 16, 2007

Blowin' in the Wind

Concerned about how society will manage its energy needs without using fossil fuels? Back in the 1960s, Buckminster Fuller predicted that by the year 2020, wind and solar would be our main sources of energy. Wind is perhaps the most overlooked source of energy generation. In fact, the United States has some of the best wind resources in the world.

Wind turbines give utilities an attractive energy solution with minimal environmental impact. And most impressive, a wind farm can be on line, generating electricity, in a matter of months, while it takes years to establish a coal-burning or nuclear power plant.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the US wind industry installed more than 2.4 gigawatts of new wind capacity during the year; the Renewables division of General Electric supplied 764 of its 1.5-megawatt wind turbines, representing 45 percent of the country's new wind capacity.

Each of GE's wind turbines is 213-feet high. The blades collect the energy, transmit it to torque, which is then transformed into energy that can used by the generator. The bigger the rotor, the more wind can be harvested, so we are now seeing giant wind turbines being located at sea.

Over the course of 20 years, a 100-megawatt wind farm will displace the need for nearly one million tons of coal, or nearly 600 million cubic meters of natural gas. Through the use of GE's installed wind turbines, as much as 11.4 million tons of greenhouse gases will not be emitted each year.

See how wind turbines are being made aesthetically pleasing; view the Architectural Wind.

Over 86 percent of the world's wind generation capacity is divided between Europe (72 percent) and the United States (14 percent). In the US, wind-generated power now represents less than one percent of US-generated electricity.

The European targets for wind power growth are substantial. Wind is expected to deliver 33 percent of all new electricity generation capacity and provide electricity for 86 million Europeans by 2010. By 2020, China expects to generate 30 gigawatts of electricity annually, enough to power millions of households.


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