The spotlight is on. But true stardom will require more direction from utilities.
It’s the story of a once scrappy, underappreciated technology—the ignored younger sibling that must fight hard for respect from its older brother, the traditional utility industry. Wind has become today’s hit—a potential blockbuster, even—but still needing that one big break.
That’s why it was fitting that the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) would hold its annual conference in Los Angeles, a place where thousands of aspiring stars flock each year, in hopes of being discovered.
The recent June conference, “Growing the Wind Business,” attracted some 7,000 attendees and nearly 420 exhibitors. Many were seeking fame and fortune in the burgeoning wind business, said by AWEA to be growing at an annual rate of 25 percent to 30 percent. Heady stuff, even for a starlet.
Moreover, with President Bush’s declaration in the 2006 State of the Union address that wind could provide 20 percent of electricity in the United States (versus today’s share of 1 percent), the wind industry might be forgiven for believing it has arrived. Clearly, 20 percent is practically on par with other major energy technologies. In fact, preliminary results released at the conference from an AWEA draft report said that the 20-fold increase in wind power (the equivalent of between 300 and 320 GW) could be reached by 2030. This figure was repeated often throughout the conference—more of a chant than mere statistic.