On June 25, President Obama delivered what some consider a major speech on climate change. The anticipation was that he would recommend definitive action to lower the frequency of harsh and lethal events that may be unleashed by the changing climate, presumably floods, droughts, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. That is certainly a worthy goal.
Thankfully, wind power measured into the President’s plans. However, of the 6,200-word speech, only two short paragraphs mentioned wind power. And if the goals are important, a more detailed roadmap would have been welcome. Yes, he said he wants to “double our energy from wind and sun.” OK, how do we do that?
Thankfully, the people he usually sees as opponents are allies on this issue. As the President pointed out, “75% of all wind energy in this country is generated in Republican districts.” Wind power has strong bipartisan support so that’s information we can put to good use. However, the President would have put a better foot forward by cajoling his opponents rather than taking every chance to backhand them as he does during fund raising. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.
Touching another contentious point, the President said his budget would, “end the tax breaks for big oil companies and invest in the clean energy companies…” If that portion of the budget passes, it puts all energy producers on a more level playing field.
Natural gas also got a well deserved plug. From a wind power perspective, natural gas and wind are natural allies. Natural-gas-fueled power plants release just over half of the CO2 released by similarly sized coal plants, and NG plants can run “peakers” that spool up and down more easily than other turbines. That lets them work well with the variable nature of wind power. Together they produce just about the least expensive and cleanest power possible. When the U.S. is powered more by renewable energy, this will be a much healthier country.
Lastly, there is a matter of leadership. The President suggested the U.S., China, and Europe are in some sort of race. This is a questionable analysis. There seems more cooperation on renewable energy than racing. However, to show a leadership position, the U.S. renewable energy industry should be encouraged to develop a profitable, sustainable, and eventually subsidy-free wind power industry with exportable products that will make the entire world a better place.
Filed Under: Policy