“Only those in tune with nature seem to pick up on the energy in wind. All sorts of things get swept off in the breeze — ghosts, pieces of soul, voices unsung, thoughts repressed, love uncherished, and a thousands galore of spiritual ether. Wind is an emotional rush because emotions are rushing by.”
This is a different kind of post for me. No references, no hyperlinks. I just want to hit you with a myriad of tiny information kernels, like debris blown on the wind…
Our economy runs on energy. However, the price that’s now needed to develop new oil sources—approximately $100 per barrel—is the same price that brings on economic recession. There is no statistical correlation between how much oil is pumped out of the ground and how much is paid at the gasoline pump.
If you count the true environmental and health costs of burning fossil fuels, wind and solar are now the least expensive energy sources worldwide. U.S. wind power developers are installing record numbers of turbines in 2012, surpassing the 50 gigawatts (GW) mark—enough power for 13 million homes. But Europe just hit the 100 GW mark, and China is on track to double our capacity in wind in a few years. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that wind could meet more than the world’s total power demand by 2030.
Clean energy creates three times as many jobs as fossil fuels. Large-scale development of wind power off the Mid-Atlantic coast would create more than 70,000 jobs. But Mitt Romney and some GOP members in Congress are opposed to the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) that gives wind a chance to compete with long-subsidized fossil fuels. This is despite the fact that 81 percent of U.S. wind projects are in Republican districts. With no Congressional action, this tax credit will expire at the end of the year. If that happens, existing jobs in the wind industry could be cut in half.
Uncertainty over the future of the PTC is already taking its toll in the wind industry. GE reported a five percent decrease in its third quarter revenues as wind turbine sales dropped. But it’s not just revenue that is being lost—thousands of jobs already have been cut or were never created, and up to 37,000 are in jeopardy without an extension of the PTC.
While both Democrats and Republicans advocate more fossil foolishness, our ongoing oil addiction is enabling the Middle East to transition to an oil-free future. Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to be 100-percent powered by renewable and low-carbon energy. Iraq has announced that it will invest $1.6 billion toward solar and wind over the next three years.
America’s economic and environmental health depends upon a rapid transition to clean energy. Some businesses understand this: Bloomberg is the first news organization in the world to obtain WindMade label certification. IKEA has announced plans to become 100% energy-neutral by 2020. However, not all companies are this forward-thinking: The American Energy Alliance, which has ties to fossil-fueled Koch Industries, has announced that it plans to make the PTC a “toxic” issue for House Republicans.
Economic transitions are never easy and rarely cheap, but both the pain and the price tag are going up.
“The winds of change are always blowing
And every time I try to stay
The winds of change continue blowing
And they just carry me away.”
Kyle Crider is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org