Report from the renewable energy conference in Las Vegas
As many as 4000 attendees yesterday packed the keynote session at the sixth annual "Renewable Energy World" conference & expo in Las Vegas, the largest all-renewables trade show in the U.S. They heard from AWEA CEO Denise Bode, as well as the heads of the trade associations representing solar, hydroelectric, renewable fuels, and geothermal energy.
Bode noted that 2008 was a remarkable year for the wind energy industry, as more than 8,300 megawatts of new wind projects were brought on line. She also remarked that the 2008 numbers put the wind industry ahead of the growth curve in the DOE 20% Wind Energy by 2030 Technical Report.
By the end of 2008, Bode said, there were 55 new or retooled U.S. manufacturers making wind turbine components. As a result, the value of U.S.-made components for wind projects for the first time exceeded 50%. Most important of all, this resulted in the creation of about 35,000 new U.S. jobs.
Discussing the policy agenda in Washington, Bode remarked that the recently passed economic stimulus bill would provide additional help for the wind industry during the economic downturn, and she noted that President Obama and Congress view wind as one of the industries that will help lift the nation out of the economic doldrums. The wind industry, she said is poised not only to recover, but to accelerate its growth in the coming months.
Next on Congress's agenda in Washington is legislation to clear the way for construction of new transmission infrastructure, which Bode compared to construction of the nation's interstate highway system, and legislation to impose a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to provide long-term certainly for the wind energy industry.
The conference continues today and tomorrow. A panel this morning on wind power trends and market growth features past AWEA President Bob Gates, current AWEA President Jim Walker, and incoming AWEA President Don Furman.