Global environmental challenges
The United States became the No. 1 wind power market in the world in 2008. But under the credit crisis in 2009, the building of new wind farms slackened and the United States ceded its top global spot to China.
With the demand for renewable energy still growing, the American Wind Energy Association is eyeing 2010 as a critical year. Here are some of their top trends to watch for:
Second to natural gas: Wind power generates only 2 percent of the U.S. electrical supply. But new wind power generation in the United States has been second only to natural gas generation in terms of new capacity built each year since 2005. Watch for the industry to work to keep that spot.
Wind turbines ratchet up the power: General Electric won a $1.4 billion contract in December to supply 338 turbines for a massive new wind farm in Oregon being built by energy producer Caithness Energy LLC. The size of the turbines — 2.5 megawatts — forecasts a shift to larger turbines, driven by economics, the wind group said. “Taller turbines with larger swept areas produce more power at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour.”
Something sinister is happening to bats in the United States — not only are their numbers declining due to a mysterious malady, but large numbers of them are also being caught mid-flight in the spinning wind turbines that are cropping up rapidly across the nation.