LAS VEGAS—Energized by a U.S. government projection that American wind power can more than double within six years, nearly 8,000 attendees wrapped up North America’s largest wind energy trade show until the next WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., May 18-21, 2015.
At this year’s annual gathering in Las Vegas, they heard the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) preview a draft of its Wind Vision for the dramatic further growth of U.S. wind energy, which will be released this fall after further industry peer review. It starts with more than doubling wind energy’s contribution to the electricity mix in just six years, to 10 percent by 2020. Wind power would comprise 20 percent of the generation mix by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050, which could make wind energy the leading source of electricity in America by that time.
Susan Reilly, incoming Chair of the AWEA Board of Directors, said the industry must lead the way in affordably cutting carbon dioxide emissions to slow climate change. Forty percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S. come from the electric power sector, and by 2050 wind energy can avert 550 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide while saving consumers over half a trillion dollars, DOE projected. Industry leaders agreed with DOE’s prediction that further cost savings are possible, even after recently dropping the cost of American wind power 43 percent in four years.
A draft of the Wind Vision will be circulated by June, and then peer review will continue with industry experts beyond the hundreds consulted to date. The final document is slated to be finalized and released to the public this fall.
To realize the Wind Vision and deliver on wind energy’s contribution to reducing carbon pollution, industry leaders said the proper policies must be in place, from an extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) to long-term policy that appropriately values carbon-free electricity, and provides the stability under which other industries operate.
“We as an industry know this vision is ambitious, but achievable,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “WINDPOWER 2014 was the shot-in-the-arm companies needed to head back to their offices and continue work on the over 13,000 megawatts of capacity under construction across 21 states. We also need to get to work letting decision-makers know the huge opportunity wind energy provides to save consumers money while delivering a solution to some of America’s most pressing challenges.”