Matt Simmons and Wind Power
By EV World
Matthew Simmons is not a tall man in stature, but when he speaks politians, regulators and energy industry executives take notice; and his presentation at the Global Windpower 2004 conference and exposition in Chicago was no exception. With forceful clarity he told the 3,600 delegates, exhibitors and gathered media that the natural gas industry in North America is in decline. Despite efforts to find additional gas deposits within the continental United States, the industry has not been able to keep up with demand. He even went so far as to say that production from America's gas fields began to decline in 1973, just three years after the nation's domestic oil production began its decline.
He told wind power executives that this means that renewable energy sources like wind will no longer be viewed as either a luxury or a "nice" environmentally-acceptable alternative to conventional energy, which he said has reached its capacity to provide additional economic growth. It will become a necessity.
But he also cautioned the industry not to over-promise on what it can deliver. Other energy systems -- like natural gas -- have done that, lulling the nation's policy makers and consumers into a false sense of security. He said that wind power will have to grow, not at its current 30% a year, but at 200% annually to replace lost generation capacity as natural gas supplies shrink at a rate of 5% annually.
After his presentation, which was part of a panel of wind energy executives held the morning of the last day of the conference, he and his fellow panel members met with the press, including EV World's editor. The American Wind Energy Association or AWEA recorded the press conference, archiving it and two other similar sessions on the Internet. In the interest of saving our listeners' time, we have edited down the session to include just Simmons' remarks, as well as follow up comments by Ed O'Connor with Airtricity and Terry Hudgens with Scottish Power. The entire clip is about 10 minutes in length.
To listen to Simmons' remarks use the MP3 Player at the right. EVWorld thanks AWEA for permitting us to cover the conference and attend the press conference.