One of the most highly debated and readily available alternative resources has a PR problem.
- It’s not clean coal. (Is that an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp? For another time…)
- It’s not nuclear. (Although there is plenty to debate about re: safety, cost, etc)
- It’s not solar. Heck, everyone WANTS more sun and its easy to understand the use/value.
Yes, its our unseen but highly present element the wind.
There is not shortage of investment or perceived benefit, and worldwide capacity keeps climbing despite the recession. Yet despite the increase capacity and environmental benefits, wind has a significant PR problem. The core issues are outlined very well by Marc Gunter in a recent post detailing his interview with National Grid’s Tom King. In summary, costs outweigh perceived benefit. And that end benefit has to do with regulators and customers.
Regulators are pushing various states like Pennsylvania to reduce energy consumption and demand. The cost for alternative energy is higher than existing sources, so making up the costs will likely be in the form of increased end consumer costs.
End consumers are going to be none too pleased about increased energy costs in a recession, likely one of National Grid’s reasons for not signing with Cape Wind as of yet.
The missing ingredient is empowerment of consumers to understand their role in conserving energy. If increased fees came with a consumer-driven reduction in overall usage, the cost could end up being negligible. And consumers would feel better since they were 1) in control and 2) helping on their terms.
In order to move any significant projects forward, the wind industry needs to join with electric and smart grid providers to get the word out on consumer empowerment.