Building an Economy Centered on Wind Energy

The 21st century promises to be the century for renewable energy sources to take the lead and build a new energy economy, with wind energy leading the way.

| April 20, 2012

Wind Turbines in Field

 During the 20th century, oil took the lead. The 21st century will belong to wind. 


We’re excited to share an inspiring new report about the remarkable shift to renewable energy that is now underway across the globe.

While much of the news we hear about the environment is doom and gloom, in this article Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of the book,
World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, outlines how rapidly renewable energy options are developing — especially wind and solar power, but also electric vehicles, hydropower and geothermal resources.

Brown demonstrates that a transition is now well underway from an economy built on fossil fuels to a world powered by renewable energy. Long-term, this is great news for reducing air pollution, slowing climate change and building an economy that is independent of ever-more-expensive imported oil. And the global renewable energy boom means thousands of new jobs in the coming years.

For example, most of the electricity in the United States currently comes from burning coal, which is a major cause of climate disruption. But as astonishing as it may seem, Brown points out that coal use is already on the decline. The United States is actually burning less coal than we were just five years ago. Meanwhile, the growth of wind power is astonishing—electricity from wind turbines is increasing by 40 to 50 percent a year!

If we make a full commitment to renewable energy, Brown writes, by 2020, the world could produce all our electricity from solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal, and we could phase out fossil fuels.

“For the first time since the Industrial Revolution began,” he says, “we are investing in sources of energy that can last as long as the Earth itself.” — MOTHER 

The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is underway. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

We inherited our fossil-fuel-based world energy economy from the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The nineteenth century was the century of coal. During the twentieth century oil took the lead. The twenty-first century will belong to wind.

It is time to design an energy economy for the twenty-first century, one that is carbon free, pollution free, and that does not require water for cooling as thermal and nuclear plants do. Once we define our goals, the field narrows quickly. Coal, oil, and natural gas are an important part of our energy past, but not of our energy future.

Saying Goodbye to Nonrenewable Energy Sources

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal climate-altering greenhouse gas, come largely from burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Coal, largely used for electricity generation, accounts for 44 percent of global fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. Oil, used primarily for transportation, accounts for 37 percent. Natural gas accounts for the remaining 19 percent.

Coal: The burning of coal is still expanding overall, largely because of its rapid growth in China and India, yet its use is declining in many countries and has been phased out in others. Some countries, such as Denmark and New Zealand, have banned new coal-fired power plants.

4/16/2015 1:57:59 AM

Teknolojinin oyun dünyasında etkisini hızla yaşadığımız şu dönemlerde görsellik bakımından şaşırtılacak derecede ilerlemesi oyuncuları mutlu ediyor. Bizim sitemizde bulunan araba oyunları kategorisinde bu değişimi fark edeceksiniz. Gerçek araba sürme tadında mükemmel en yeni oyunlar burada.

12/22/2014 6:54:56 PM

Kaptan Jack Sparrow şüphesiz kendi zamanının en kabadayı korsanlar biri olmadan. Birkaç o sadece ödünç zorunda değilsiniz, bu düzenbaz, çok kurnaz ve kurnazlık yakalamak başardı. http://www.biroyunoyna.netEğlenmek ve çok sayıda bar birinde rahatlatıcı, Jack ada corsairs geçmişte başka bir yere geride sayısız hazineleri hikaye duydum. Ve bütün her köşesinde hikayeler bir sürü duyabiliyorum, çünkü, ama burada aniden bir gerçek kart buldum olur. Yaşlı adama göre, büyük hazine yol açacak. Ve sadece bir kar öncesinde, hiçbir şey hikayenin gerçekliğini doğrulamak engelledi hala ayakta değildir. http://www.simdioyunoyna.netYani şafak Jack Sparrow ve onun cesur mürettebatı seti yelken. Altın dağlar parlayan, heyecan verici maceralar üye ol ve uzak kıyılarına gemi girin. Kraliyet Donanması ve böylece deniz haydutları arama etrafında dolaşıyordu çünkü Tabii ki, bu yol, kolay olmayacak. http://www.yenioyunsitesi.netSen zorla kendi yolunu mücadele etmesi gerekecek, ancak aksi takdirde kolayca kendini kızarmış olabilir. Tüm düşmanları ışığında göndermek için çekirdeklerin yedek etmeyin. Yolculuk boyunca bulunan paraları toplayın. Gemi ve kıyı.

5/15/2014 4:22:20 PM

Most healthy source of energy, wind energy, dams, I think it is.

4/29/2012 12:17:33 PM

From today's "Die Welt," a leading German newspaper: 600,000 German households are about to have their electricity cut off because they can't afford to pay their bills now that Germany has stopped nuclear production of power and is relying more on wind & PV. The politicians claIm the rise in prices is only temporary until more coal fired plants are built. That's great environmental policy. Leave it to the poticians to solve small problems by creating larger ones.

Kathy in the Wallowas
4/27/2012 5:06:44 PM

I appreciate the goal - however wind mills of the current design in the US are outdated technology, with parts made and shipped from Europe. The raptor and bat kill is extraordinary, and the private windfarms are now lobbying for subsidies - even as existing electric infrastructure cannot handle the capacity. I advocate for the newer designs or more, for US manufactured solar. There is a place for wind, but the corporate model is increasing the damage to natural resources and creating a new subsidized industry. Look into new tech - way greener.

4/27/2012 4:54:58 PM

I'm paying a surcharge of $4.00 a month for wind energy that I don't receive from my power company.

Heidi Hunt
4/23/2012 1:30:24 PM

Just testing!

Danielle Maj
4/23/2012 4:46:49 AM

The problem is that wind is variable, and turbines have a particular range in which they operate. Natural gas serves well to fill the gaps in supply vs. demand, but you need to have baseload generation, and it's not wind. At least not right now. More than windfarms, I'd like to see turbines that provide for individual households, like micro hydro and roof photovoltaics do. The more you can even out your demand on the grid, the better renewables will be able to handle your load, but honestly, I think hydrokinetics have more promise for reliability than wind.

4/22/2012 11:16:25 PM

Earth Day Special: The Media's Top 25 Worst Environmental Quotes

4/22/2012 10:43:12 PM

Wind energy is too expensive to install and maintain. Each year a new system is manufactured thus makes the older models obsolete. In our tri-state area (MN, SD and ND) our electricity comes from the cleanest coal fired plants in the nation with hundreds of years of coal. ND also billions of gallons oil and CF of natural gas. Let technology catch up first.

Dan Cavalieri
4/22/2012 4:30:17 PM

I agree with you my friend. Should we not be using Nat Gas to fuel our cars until we have a grid that is reliable? How about putting a few Nat Gas stations where someone can travel to a destination without running out.

Dan Cavalieri
4/22/2012 4:28:18 PM

I find it strange that the answer is so easy to some. The tree huggers in Kansas don't want to kill the birds or obstruct the view? They seem to be fools because they want to be green with magic instead of any give and take. A wind project study in the middle of Kansas was stopped for the above reasons. With these results the wind & solar option is only a part of the solution. Why not nuclear? Has anyone ever read about a nuclear generating plat using the new bed system, it is being used in france? Guess what, no China syndrome with this one. Why doesn't our government pursue safe nuclear generation.

4/22/2012 4:23:21 PM

Too bad the efficiency for energy savings to cost is not there.and most of the system when finally paid for will need replacement. At this time there is no benefit other than to the green companies who sell these product, which by the way are mostly from China...I would love it to be other wise.. Maybe if we take Government out of it the free market will correct this. Obama has tarnish our Green Industry with his granting of funds to friends of failing Green Companies for political rewards.

Larry Foster
4/22/2012 3:56:40 PM

Methinks Lester is a bit optimistic. A great and realistic approach was in the latest issue of MENews on small scall hydro The rest is wishful thinking.

4/22/2012 3:40:09 PM

"Now, for the first time since the Industrial Revolution began, we are investing in sources of energy that can last as long as the earth itself." Lester, I welcome your optimistic view of technological progress, however, much work still needs to be done on creating the collective will to employ the science that you so eloquently describe.

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