If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck – or a really great ducklike thingamajig. Apply that maxim to energy, and you get some insight into why more Americans are shedding fossil fuels in favor of wind power and other forms of clean, renewable energy. After all, if it gets the same job done at far lower risk and with less cost over the long run, what’s not to like? Case in point: even though the housing market has not recovered from its crash, sales of small home-scaled wind turbines increased last year by almost 10,000 units.
The wind turbine sales report was just released by the American Wind Energy Association (naturally), fresh on the heels of its new collaboration with the United Steel Workers labor union and other partners to push for more green jobs through a national renewable energy policy. To hammer home the point, AWEA sent a gigantic 131-foot made-in-the-U.S.A. wind turbine blade to Congress, inscribed with 6,000 signatures from wind power and green jobs supporters. And guess who partnered in that ? GE. That’s right, GE.
General Electric (okay, so GE) and Sustainability
In contrast to British Petroleum’s notoriously stingy greenwashing pitch which apparently began as far back as 2000 and manifests itself today in no – as in zero, nada, zippo – research into best practices for managing offshore oil spills, GE has engaged in an all out global push to fund innovation dedicated to renewable energy through its Global Research Centers in the U.S, Germany, China, and India. If this was the World Cup, then BP would represent the the blown calls (no disrespect to the refs, just the calls) and GE would be the coach who develops a team that can achieve great things together.
Small Wind Power Sales on the Rise
According to the AWEA report, small wind sales grew 15% last year, enabling the industry to pass a milestone totalling 100 megawatts of installed wind power capacity. Over half the total sales were made in the past three years despite competition from the solar power industry, a freefall in the housing market, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. AWEA credits the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with expanding access to wind power tax credits, along with state incentives, streamlined permitting procedures and strong interest by the private equity investment community, much of it going in to U.S.-based firms.
Small Wind, Green Jobs
The key driving force in all of this are wind power consumers. AWEA notes that in the past, that market was fairly narrow. Now the consumer market has expanded beyond a small set of philosophical concerns, helped along by the growing do-it-yourself trend and a strong interest in buying products made in the U.S.A.
Image: Small wind turbine by m.gifford on flickr.com.
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