What American Wind Needs


We met yesterday with the top communications guy from Vestas, a Danish company that’s the world’s number one maker of wind turbines. I found myself a bit surprised by the pristine simplicity of what he was saying—he didn’t talk about the need to price carbon, he wasn’t asking for feed-in tariffs, didn’t say much about renewable energy portfolio regulations, didn’t say much about utility regulations, indeed didn’t say much about much of anything. He was, instead, just extremely bullish on the US as a market. He thinks it’s completely feasible to bring large-scale commercially viable wind power to the United States on the basis of large wind farms based in the “wind corridor” running through the middle of the country:

wind-energy 1

This of course raises the one real problem he cited. You need a modern electrical grid that can move the power from where the wind is to where the cities are. And he didn’t really see any technical challenges to doing this. He said Denmark has a grid that’s just fine and we could build one in America to if the money and political will existed. Indeed, despite Denmark’s heavy use of wind power he seemed to view us as having a more promising set of fundamentals—basically large amounts of empty space where there’s wind and you could put up wind turbines.