University of Michigan student Aubrey Ann Parker is in Copenhagen and blogging for the Detroit Free Press about her experiences and observations at the 15th Conference of the Parties United Nations Climate Change Convention. Wherever you come down in the climate debate, I think it’s instructive to hear about the issues and actions that are being discussed. In Copenhagen’s offshore wind industry shows global potential she asks a very simple question that’s been on my mind for a few years:
Why aren’t we using our technical expertise and warehouses full of machinery equipment to help optimize wind turbines that could be used throughout the world? This morning I attended a three-hour tour to Middelgrunden Wind Farm, just off the coast of Copenhagen. Luckily this tour didn’t turn out like Gilligan’s, because the temperature was below freezing.
The tour highlighted several speakers from the wind energy industry, all of which mentioned the need for better turbine design so that wind energy can become more affordable for consumers. They stressed the importance of new technology to overcome the learning curve in an industry that is still fairly young (only 30 years old for onshore turbines, and less than 10 years for offshore). But the potential is there, and estimates say the demand is growing fast.
Why not indeed? That Michigan hasn’t trained its manufacturing might upon this exploding global market seems to me indicative of a profound lack of vision on the part of our business and political leaders.
You can read more from Aubrey and other UM students on the Michigan at Cop15 blog.