Wind Trends? Yes, Super Cool, Love It But ….

PALM SPRINGS WIND FARMS

Wind will account for the largest share of new electric capacity in 2020 – YAY! But wind will still only account for 4% of total US energy use. And here’s an appalling fact: 66% of the energy generated by the electric power industry ends up being wasted!

Renewable Energy

According to Clean Technica, over the last decade (between 2008 and 2018), total renewable energy production has doubled, including a five-fold increase in wind power. Wind and solar combined now produce more electricity than hydroelectric power, which dominated renewable energy for decades.

Renewable vs. Fossil Fuels

But 80% of the nation’s energy still comes from coal, oil and natural gas. In 2018, fossil fuels were down slightly from 84% a decade earlier. Coal use has declined in recent years while natural gas use has soared, and oil’s share of the nation’s energy tab fluctuates between 35% and 40%.” (Source: Pew Research)

Before we pat ourselves on the back for giving up plastic straws, let’s consider this:

Only 34% of the energy generated by the electric power industry reaches end users. 66% is wasted in the process of generating, transmitting and distributing power mostly as heat from vehicle exhausts and industrial furnaces.

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump weighed in on wind!

Scroll down for more from the US Energy Information Agency as well as top trends from the American Wind Energy Association (worth a read!!)

ENERGY USE PER CAPITA DECLINES

Pew Research says the amount of energy used by Americans per capita has been decreasing over the past 20 years.

  • In 2000, each US resident used about 349.8 million Btu of energy.
  • By 2017 that had fallen to 300.5 million Btu, the lowest level in five decades.
  • In 2018, though, per capita energy use rose to 309.3 million Btu. (Why?)
  • The highest use of energy in America per person occurred in 1979 — 359 million Btu.
  • The decline in per capita use of energy means the US economy has become steadily less energy-intensive since the end of World War II.
  • In 1949, it took 15,175 Btu to generate each dollar of real gross domestic product.
  • By 2018, that number dropped to 5,450 Btu, a 64% decrease! (decline in manufacturing? or more efficient means of production?)
  • But while per capita consumption of energy is down, the population in the US more than doubled from 149 million people in 1949 to 327 million in 2018. Twice as many people is bad news when it comes to the environment and climate change.

WIND POWER TRENDS IN THE UNITED STATES

Iowa becomes first state to generate over 40% of its electricity using wind

Iowa has always been a pioneering state when it comes to wind and renewable energy. In the 1980’s it became the first state to establish a renewable portfolio standard and by 2010 it was generating 16% of its electricity from wind power. Continuing that legacy, Iowa has now become the first state to generate more than 40% of its electricity from wind.

Offshore wind power activity creates jobs

The first offshore wind project in the U.S. began operating in late 2016.

The five-turbine, 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island wind farm is located three miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

Wind turbines have become twice as productive

Improvements in performance and increases in wind turbine size means that wind turbines deployed at the end of the decade can generate more than two times the amount of electricity as those built in 2010. A typical turbine now generates enough electricity to power over 900 homes.

Wind spurs a renaissance in rural America

Over 99% of wind projects are built in rural areas, and they’re bringing investment into these communities. Wind projects pay over $1 billion a year in state and local taxes and landowner lease payments. This gives local communities new revenue to fix roads, invest in schools and fund emergency services while creating well-paying jobs that attract young people. Land lease payments also offer family farmers and ranchers a stable income source that helps them weather droughts or falling crop prices.

Wind delivers over 100,000 U.S. jobs and more in the offing

The U.S. wind industry counts over 500 domestic manufacturing facilities and crossed the 100,000 American job threshold in 2016.

The second fastest growing job in the country (??) is wind turbine technician. With offshore wind just taking off, jobs are anticipated to be even more abundant.

Bottom Line.

I’m enamored by the look of wind farms as I drive through rural America. However, friends who live in small towns in Wisconsin are generally less enthused by their wind farm neighbors – apparently they make a lot of noise and they do kill birds.

Although wind power is among the fastest-growing electricity sources in the US, it still only represents 4% of our overall needs.

Unless we the people (all 7.7 billion of us) stop being so wasteful with our cars, air conditioners, fast fashion, one-day delivery, and overall “disposables” lifestyle, we’re just “pissing in the wind“. Actions always speak louder than words.

Much more to come on this topic.

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