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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 Moishe on 2/5/2009 12:08:53 PM , Rating: 0
Your problem is that you're trying to use logic against the "green" religion.

We all agree that clean energy is good. We all want cleanliness... but at *any* cost? That just doesn't make sense.

It take a blind-faith religion to be so militant about something that runs counter to common sense and economics, yes this is what the environmental movement is. They are just another religion.

RE: Dubious honor
By Suntan on 2/5/2009 1:15:07 PM , Rating: 3
Your problem is that you're trying to use logic against the "green" religion.

No, the problem is that he has no clue what he is talking about.

I hate enviro-tree huggers as much as the next guy. And I take issue with the flower-people calculating in tax credits as a means of saying that "alternative" energy is cost competitive. However, the idea that wind turbines can not co-exist on farmland is just plain ignorance.

Don't believe me, go to google maps and type in "Clear Lake, IA" or more precisely, " 43.049447,-93.431039 " zoom in and out on the satellite views and tell me that land is not being farmed.

As for the aesthetics of it, I personally enjoy that stretch between the Twin Cities and Des Moines.


RE: Dubious honor
By xenos123 on 2/5/2009 3:51:11 PM , Rating: 4
I didn't realise America was actually made from squares :)

Holy moly

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