What Will 2013 Bring for Wind Energy?

wind turbinesYes, there are lots of things to be done in order to make the Federal government, and the country, more sustainable between now and 2013. But every once in a while it’s worth looking ahead to see what the future may bring; especially when a consensus has formed.

The consensus we’re reading about concerns the prospects of America’s wind energy industry. Developers are installing units and the nation’s wind capacity continues to increase, but it seems as though 2013 could be a watershed year. That’s because on Dec. 31, 2012 a Federal tax credit that has helped spur the wind industry’s growth will expire.

The 2013 date is no secret in the industry. Reuters published a story about the prospects of wind after 2013, and the individuals they interviewed were quite candid about the prospects for a slowdown.

Of course the tax credit could be extended and the potential slowdown avoided, at least temporarily. But, as many who were interviewed in the Reuters article point out, the real solution isn’t a tax credit extension. What they really seem to desire is a long-term energy plan so that they can avoid the uncertainty of trying to grow an industry with ‘will they or won’t they’ energy policy challenging their business decisions.

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Denise Petet

One thing that can help with the uncertainty is to get rid of all the ‘we’re not sure’s that plague any plan. Wind is new and some aren’t even sure how it all works. If you don’t understand it, can you get behind it?

I’m all for it, but I don’t think it’s the magic bullet that some do. I think it’s only part of any plan to eliminate coal power. I do think, with a combo of wind and solar, all pumping power into the grid, coal plants can, maybe not be taken totally off line, but be taken down to a fraction of what they are now.

There was the Pickins Plan a couple of years ago. But I think the whole plan – for massive wind farms powering hundreds of thousands of square miles – was just too big. With too many unknowns. But if people start small, or maybe the tax credit is rewritten not to be in favor of a tax credit for a large company, but for a town, to give them the ability to put up local turbines, to wire themselves and to be independant, that might have some appeal.

There are a lot of rural communities that could literally be powered with a turbine or three, well build them locally. Power the towns to give them the option of being independant of the grid. And, as you do that, you gather real time and real world stats and figures as to how economical and practical wind farming really is. And if you’re going to buck something as entrenched and known as hydro or coal power, you need those real world stats. Local turbines would power the town and any extra would get fed into the grid.

I live in Kansas, and have seen several wind farms go up over the past few years. But, along with wind, we have other weather issues that make large scale wind farming fraught with danger….high winds that blow down power lines, ice storms and blizzards, tornadoes and thunderstorms, any of which can knock out a farm or the lines carrying its power…however, smaller, more local farms, meant to power a town would be, in some ways, just as succeptible, yet not as vulnerable since a few hundred/thousand can be effected if something goes wrong instead of millions across the state.

it’d be like the difference between having only one street to get from point A to point B vs having dozens of little feeder streets that do the same. In the former, shutting down a road will cripple you, in the latter, it’s an inconvenience that is easily dealt with.