Global Wind Day: 5 Business Benefits of Wind Power
Did you know today is Global Wind Day? Since 2009, the Global Wind Energy Council, European Wind Energy Association and national associations have organized activities on June 15 to spread awareness about the power and possibilities of wind energy.
We recently signed a power purchase agreement for 34 megawatts of wind energy to power some of our Mexico operations. Why? This addition of wind helps us diversify our energy portfolio and minimize risk, all while leaving a smaller carbon footprint. When this project goes online next year, nearly all of the energy for our Toluca complex will come from wind energy, and 12 percent of our North American energy consumption will be powered by renewable energy.
We’re investing in wind power because it’s both an environmentally and financially sound decision for our company. In fact, investing in wind energy is a sound decision for many companies. Here’s five reasons why.
Improvements in turbine technology have increased the functionality of the turbine and reduced costs considerably. Because wind energy has no fuel cost, commercial customers can lock in purchase agreements for decades at a time knowing that the price of energy will not increase. Coupled with federal production tax credits, the financial benefits of wind power purchasing agreements are even greater.
Thanks to Renewable Portfolio Standards, more states’ utility companies are required to produce energy through renewable sources, too. Although no federal policy exists, states like Michigan, Colorado and Missouri already have regulations in place to make sure utility companies are supplying renewable energy, and many include wind energy in their portfolio. And now companies are joining forces to voice better access for renewable energy in the U.S.
Sky is the Limit
This is another cost advantage – as the size of the wind operation increases, the cost to produce energy goes down, benefiting both the provider and the end user. It’s easy to grow an existing wind farm because turbines take up such a small fraction of the land. The majority of their mass is in the sky.
Wind and solar, for example, generate energy at different times of day. Wind is generally more powerful early in the morning and evening, while solar provides power throughout the day when the sun is shining. Another great option for creating a small carbon-footprint energy portfolio is to use natural gas with wind and solar power. Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels and can be used at times when wind and solar energy generation aren’t as strong.
Operational Cost Savings
Wind investments pay off in the long term. Our renewable energy projects are saving us $5 million annually on power costs and this is growing. Our Mexican wind farm will save an additional $2 million annually when operational.
Our wind project in Mexico is showing us how valuable wind energy can be in a company’s renewable energy portfolio. In fact, we’re considering ways to start using wind energy in the U.S. as well. Stay tuned to the blog for more news on where we’ll be using wind energy next.
Rob Threlkeld is General Motors’ manager of renewable energy.