After officially dismissing the role of wind power in the energy future of the U.S., presidential candidate Mitt Romney faced some stiff blowback from members of his own party. Now it seems that Mother Nature is weighing in, too. Fresh on the heels of a report that Colorado Representative Scott Tipton has joined the ranks of prominent Republicans who are opposed to the Romney position, Hurricane Isaac has forced the Republican National Convention to cancel the first day of its proceedings, originally scheduled for Monday.
Wind Power Rising in the U.S.A.
Okay, so the Isaac thing is probably just a coincidence, but when you talk about U.S. energy resources, the hurricane is a fair reminder that wind is a powerful source of energy, and that coal, oil, and natural gas are just three parts of a much larger domestic energy pie that includes solar and geothermal, too.
According to the recently released Wind Technologies Market Report, wind has become a first-tier player in the national energy grid in terms of new added capacity. In 2011 alone, wind accounted for an impressive 32 percent of new capacity.
Back in 2008 and 2009, wind’s share of the pie was even larger, but uncertainties over extension of the wind energy tax credit have put a damper on the industry’s growth this year.
Fossil Fuels Face an Uncertain Future
Despite the opposition of Mitt Romney and most of the Republican party, wind is on the upswing in the U.S. In contrast, coal has been withering on the vine, starting a couple of years ago when improved biomass technology began coming on line as a feedstock for power plants. More recently, the availability of cheap natural gas has played a key role in shoving coal aside.
As for domestically sourced natural gas and oil, both face significant obstacles to future growth over the long run. For natural gas the problem lies in potential impacts of fracking (water contamination, air pollution and even earthquakes) on local communities including high-population areas in the eastern U.S. For oil, it’s the ongoing environmental issues including disasters like the Gulf oil spill, as well as price spikes and supply bottlenecks that attend the global marketplace.
Aside from periodically wreaking havoc on household and business, continued dependence on the global petroleum market will have a significant impact on national security.
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.