Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Speaking and Learning at the Holland Renewable Energy and Jobs Presentation

I was part of a renewable energy panel discussion tonight in Holland, MI. We talked about jobs and wind power. I'm the surly looking one on the far right. I talked about the importance of standing up and making noise in favor of renewable energy.

The other speakers provided some incredible information about the state of wind power manufacturing in America and the jobs created there. A person from the Holland wind turbine blade manufacturer Energetx spoke as well. He made some incredible points about striving to make their product better and cheaper. Reducing the cost of the turbines is one of the central obsessions of wind turbine parts manufacturers.

That really struck a chord with me.

In the great wind power debate I hear an awful lot of folks screaming about government subsidies and mandates and how the free market could do this so much better.....

...but what they don't seem to realize is that the free market is very much at play here. Companies like Energetx don't exist in a vacuum. They exist in a world of hard core competition. They're not just competing with other parts manufacturers...they're competing with coal.

Folks worried that the precious and almighty free market isn't able to work its magic on renewable energies need to have a conversation with a parts manufacturer and ask them if they're forced to be highly competitive, making parts better and cheaper than they can be had from China or anywhere else in the US or Europe.

The market is very much in play. And it's making these parts better and cheaper by the day, which means our wind power is getting better and cheaper by the day.

Another interesting insight brought by a fellow with the last name of VanderVeen was this: as a general rule, a wind farm almost always has some level of activity during the day. And since wind is a product of the sun heating the earth, your greatest activity for wind power comes around noon to three o'clock when the sun is reaching its peak.....which luckily happens to coincide with peak demand times.

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