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Original and Incremental Innovations in the Wind Industry

Biomass, Wave- Tidal, Methane, Ethanol, Hydro-Power,Biodiesel and other sources of Renewable Energy

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Old 11-16-2010, 07:31 AM
solar_ant85 solar_ant85 is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Cool Original and Incremental Innovations in the Wind Industry

Solar (especially solar PV) is the hot topic today in the cleantech domain today all over the world. Hardly a day goes by when you do not hear about the new, new invention that had taken place in the industry.

The wind industry has been relatively sedate. Listen to the comparison for solar PV and wind innovations from the EAI Blog here:

"In theory, wind farms have existed for over a hundred years, but they have been used to generate electricity only for the past about 40 years. For instance, the wind farm at Altamont is considered to be one of the oldest “modern” wind farms in the world – this was constructed in the early 70s. So that makes the wind power a 40-year old industry. That could qualify as a fairly mature industry.

If you consider solar PV, a quick reading of the industry will tell you that there have been dramatic cost reductions with innovations and improvements in technology. Since the early 1980s, capital costs for solar PV have fallen by about 90% – yes, the capital cost today just about 10% of what it was in the early 1980s. In the last couple of years alone, costs have fallen by over 30%.

Well, wind energy costs have fallen as well. In 2004, wind energy cost a fifth of what it did in the 1980s, and some expected that downward trend to continue as larger multi-megawatt turbines were mass-produced. However, the cost reduction in wind energy (per MW of power or per kWh of energy) has not been as regular and steady as it has been for solar PV, with some years in the period 2004-2007 actually experiencing significant cost increases, mainly owing to the shortage of wind turbine supplies.

OK, so most of us would readily admit that solar (both PV and CSP) have much higher chances of disruptive innovations down the line than does wind. This does not however imply that there are no major innovations or efforts to increase the efficiency of wind farms or to decrease the costs of components."

The author of the post goes on to say that there are indeed some innovations happening in the wind energy industry and also cites a few examples. But overall, there is little denying the fact that innovations in wind energy are growing at a much slower pace than are innovations in solar, geothermal, waste to energy, biomass power and ocean energy systems. Do you agree with me, and if yes, what do you think are the reasons for this? Is it simply because it is an old industry and fairly mature, thereby structurally less innovation prone? Or do you think the other renewable energy sectors have a different set of people with different DNAs working in them?
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