Blowing in the wind

Mike Haas, AE’87, envisions a future where nearly 30 percent of the nation’s electricity could come from wind and solar power. And he should know.


Haas founded the wind energy firm Orion Energy Group (OEG) in 1998 in Oakland, Calif. OEG, along with its UK affiliate RDC Ltd., has developed enough wind power projects in the United States and the U.K. to meet the annual electricity needs of about 1 million homes.
Haas thinks wind power and other forms of renewable energy will continue to have strong potential in the coming years, but more work is needed before substantial long-term capacity additions can be made.

“Transmission limitations will prohibit the full potential build-out unless states, the federal government, utilities, and the private sector commit to upgrading and optimizing our transmission system.”

“Transmission limitations will prohibit the full potential build-out unless states, the federal government, utilities, and the private sector commit to upgrading and optimizing our transmission system.
“The U.S. in particular has vast amounts of wind and solar resources,” Haas says, “but we need to invest in some key transmission upgrades and smart grid technologies to be able to move new renewable energy to load centers.
“Renewable energy sources alone will never completely replace hydrocarbon fuels,” Haas says, “but you can’t talk about energy without talking about the risks of climate change. I have full confidence that renewable energy, like wind and solar power, can cost-effectively provide around 30 percent or more of our nation’s electricity supply over the next 15 to 20 years — if we have the right transmission policy.
“Renewables have become much more competitive over the past few years,” Haas says. “They will certainly play a significant role in helping to secure our energy future, as well as help address the risks of climate change.”

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