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A recently built wind farm in West Virginia churns out power on a windy day. The U.S. took the lead in 2008 for highest wind production of any country, and is closing on the lead for solar.  (Source: Baltimore Sun)

The gains in wind and solar raise the need for efficient storage technologies as they are variable power sources. More efficient production and installation techniques must be developed, and much more research must be done to make the technologies cost competitive with fossil fuel and nuclear power, as well.  (Source: Inhabitat)
"The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind..."

In 2007, Germany was the leader of the world for total wind production.  However, in 2008, the U.S. was perched in the top spot thanks to strong growth.  The data also indicated that sometime this year, the U.S. will seize the lead in installed solar power.  The newly released figures represent the U.S.'s growing thirst for alternative power.

The U.S. increased its wind capacity by 50 percent last year to a total of 25 GW, enough to power nearly 5 million homes.  Germany took a close second with 24 GW of installed wind, while Spain took the third spot.  China took fourth place, but posted even larger growth than the U.S., more than doubling its capacity for the fourth year running.  If China continues this pace of growth, it will soon overtake the U.S. in capacity.

Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council, who released the figures, cheered the findings.  He states, "Governments must send a strong and unequivocal signal that the age of fossil fuels is over."

Globally wind power grew by 29 percent, to reach 121 GW total capacity.  As one of the most affordable sources of alternative energy -- being only slightly more expensive than coal and nuclear -- wind accounted for 42 percent of the new energy installations in the U.S.  Mr. Sawyer says this figure emphasizes wind power's competitive nature.

Currently, the wind power industry is slumping due to falling oil prices and a weakened economy.  The industry does have some protection thanks to subsidies and energy taxes, such as the guaranteed price premium in Germany and Spain.  Such initiatives have softened the blow dealt by the economy to the industry.

The new stimulus package that's being debated in the House and Senate would increase the amount of alternative energy tax breaks in the U.S. by $31B USD.  The tax breaks would help President Obama's administration achieve its target of double U.S. alternative energy production in three years.  The EU wants to increase its amount of alternative energy from 10 percent of the total energy production to 25 percent by 2020.

A separate analysis, conducted by Jefferies analyst Michael McNamara showed that the U.S., boosted by its sunnier climate, will overtake Germany this year in solar power production.  Solar power is still very costly, but increased mass production and new technologies have helped to slow drop the costs.

The continued growth of wind and solar, variable power sources, worldwide raises the necessity of efficient storage technologies.  Most storage technologies are still in their infancy, with many being prohibitively expensive.

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RE: Dubious honor
By Nfarce on 2/5/2009 10:47:00 AM , Rating: 5
Dude where have you been? Don't you know living now means you have to live for communal standards? Why, it is not fair that you can afford to run a thermostat at 76 degrees in winter when someone else can't. It is not fair that you have four PCs and three big screen TVs when someone else doesn't even have one. It is not fair that you have a bigger home than someone else.

You should sacrifice yourself for your fellow human being and give up the "wealth" that you have and transfer it to those who do not have as much, no matter if you worked hard to get where you are. We should all be relegated in the same 900 foot government allocated housing facilities. Therefore, every person and every family will be on equal footing and get the same amount of government money every month - no rich, no poor - just like good little communal Eastern Bloc dwellers.

Get with the program man. Don't you feel just a little guilty about having more than someone else? No? You greedy neocon!

/sarc off

RE: Dubious honor
By Ananke on 2/5/2009 3:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
You should understand that political extremes didn't occur without any reason. What you describe happened because of massive wealth inequality, and it may happen again - in one or another form. So, yes, smart people who don't want their wealth nationalized at one point, usually are contributing to the society through taxes. I guess, that wizdom was forgotten for the last two decades in USA.

RE: Dubious honor
By corduroygt on 2/5/2009 4:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's why we have the second amendment in this country.

RE: Dubious honor
By Spuke on 2/5/2009 6:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
He said "/sarc off" at the end of his post. What do you think that means? I personally LOL'd at what he said. That's what some people here are really thinking and he said it out loud. I'd rate him up.

RE: Dubious honor
By Nfarce on 2/5/2009 6:32:27 PM , Rating: 3
So, yes, smart people who don't want their wealth nationalized at one point, usually are contributing to the society through taxes. I guess, that wizdom was forgotten for the last two decades in USA.

Huh? Of course the "smart" people are contributing to society through taxes - a heavily progressive and mandatory scheduling at that (top 25% of income earners pay 87% of all federal income taxes by private filers).

If they didn't, they'd go to jail. Unless they were Obama Democrat cabinet picks like Tom Daschle of course. Then it's just, OOOPS, they forgot. Silly them!

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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