Major steps foward for wind energy

On winter days like the ones we’ve been having, walking outside feels unbearable. Add some chilling wind into the picture — forget it. It may not feel like it, but wind is a hot commodity these days.

The cost of onshore wind power has decreased to record lows, with prices for wind turbines at their lowest level since 2005. In some areas, wind may even be entering into serious competition with coal-fired plants as a source of electricity. Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Finance’s chief executive made a point that over the past few years, due to rising demand, wind turbine costs were high. However, manufacturers have been busy working to reduce their costs, and wind's time has come.

In the United States, and even in regions of Brazil, Mexico and Sweden, the cost of electricity generated by wind farms is comparable to coal-fired power, differing only by $1 in megawatt per hour costs.

Also in the news, on Monday, interior secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the federal spending plan to  make offshore wind farms a reality. We should be taking advantage of ocean breezes, since 78 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from America's 28 coastal states. The plan will include funding opportunities of up to $50.5 million for projects that help increase offshore wind energy.

For an example of how promising the process is, look toVirginia. The state has the potential to generate 94 gigawatts of wind energy; if just  one tenth of that were captured, it could power three million homes!

According to the New York Times, the government’s new plan emphasizes both price and reliability. Regulating towers in the middle of the ocean will likely prove more difficult than servicing a land-based turbine, but it is expected to pay off in the end. The plan also looks to remove the market barrier to building these coastal wind farms.

So, don't curse that next icy blast quite so loudly — the possibility of it being at the forefront of renewable energy is judged likely.