Windstream — Affordable Micro-Wind At Last

Here is our webinar for July, in which I interviewed Dan Bates, CEO of WindStream, a company with an exciting advancement in micro-wind.

I begin by taking a step back from wind power, and micro-wind in particular, and noting that the imperative to move to renewable energy is growing daily. At the risk of over-dramatizing, with every rotation of the Earth, more people are becoming aware of the damage that our reliance on fossil fuels is causing – at many different levels.

The only issue is cost; we’re generally unwilling to pay more for clean energy. Thus only through real cost breakthroughs is this whole enterprise feasible. Yet we’re very close to grid parity, the point at which an incremental megawatt of electricity can be generated with wind at the same price as coal.

Here’s a technology that, I believe, can play an important role in pushing us over the finish line. And here’s a side benefit: micro-wind is an example of distributed generation, i.e., the generation of electricity at the local level, rather than at a power utility that may be far away.

I hope you’ll check out the webinar. If you do, see if you agree with me that the WindStream product has a range of different target market segments, including:

• Environmentalists (those who care about the quality of the world we’re leaving for our children)

• Individualists (those who do not wish to count on others – especially not our quasi-government utilities — for survival)

• Patriots (those who understand that the most effective thing we can do to strengthen our country is to break its addiction to fossil fuels)

• DIYers (those handy, home-improvement buffs who like to handle projects themselves)

• Greenwashers (those who wish to appear “green,” but merely for its PR value)

Hope you enjoy.

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3 comments on “Windstream — Affordable Micro-Wind At Last
  1. Frank Eggers says:

    “The only issue is cost; we’re generally unwilling to pay more for clean energy.”

    I don’t think that cost is the ONLY issue, although it is an important one. Reliability is also an issue, considering that wind power is intermittent.

    It would be interesting to see how well a micro wind system would provide power for an electric stove.

    • I would argue that powering a stove is not on the most important list of devices for off grid consumption. Typically it is light, communications equipment, laptops, etc. Much of the green energy out there is in fact, not a one for one replacement for an entire energy need. In fact, the entire idea of the turbomill / solarmill, was to merely offset need in an inexpensive, simple format. By doing so, you CAN achieve reasonable ROIs, while significantly reducing consumption. Many areas of the world have inadequate power from the grid, and users are forced into either roving brownouts, or paying exorbitant rates during peak times. Other places don’t even have a grid in place, significantly limiting what a society can enjoy. By literally placing a few of these devices in off grid situations in places like Africa, you can power a simple schoolhouse’s need to have light, computers and a phone. This may sound trivial to us, but to them, it’s an order of magnitude leap forward. In many major metro areas of the US, esp those with decent wind and/or solar resources, these are a simple way to lessen the strain on the grid itself. This week’s outage in India is a distinct example. “Slowing down the meter” is a different strategy than people are used to. This is the beauty of micro wind/solar. It’s a radically different approach…

  2. Frank Eggers says:

    Micro wind probably does have a place where grid power is not available and people need modest amount of electricity where nothing except electricity will do the job. However, in many poor countries, a significant amount of CO2 emissions are from cooking. They use bottled gas, kerosene, or wood for cooking. The wood for cooking may be used at an unsustainable rate and even if it isn’t, the wood smoke creates health problems.

    It would seem that in the above situation, the only way out is to use electricity for cooking. Solar cookers could make a contribution, but not do the entire job. So what is needed is enough clean and cheap electricity so that people can use it for cooking.

    Again, if battery back-up is not too expensive, micro wind would have a place. It could provide sufficient light for children to do their schoolwork, recharge cell phones, etc. But where grid power is available at a reasonable cost, it is highly unlikely that it could be economically justified.

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  1. […] the only people who have a legitimate customer value proposition in this space are our friends at WindStream, which is why we present them in our list of renewable energy investment […]

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