Future of wind power in Michigan

All of that will be discussed at the Michigan Wind Energy Conference next week (April 20-21) at Cobo Center in Detroit. The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (which is sponsoring the conference) Executive Director Jennifer Alvarado agreed to answer some questions about the potential future of wind energy over email for Metromode.

Wind energy is seen as a potentially big job creator for Michigan in industries like alternative energy and manufacturing. Could Michigan also expect to see job creation in tourism industry because of the wind turbines? Could these turbines become as iconic as Michigan’s historic lighthouses?

Many Michigan residents and decision makers tour the thumb area to view the wind farm in Ubly, Michigan. During the first few months after completion of the wind farm, at east 800 people had traveled to the area to see the wind turbines. As Michigan continues to build wind farm projects, they will continue to be visited. There is an opportunity to increase tours of the Michigan wind farms that will benefit the local communities.

The stereotypical wind turbine is a towering piece of machinery that often dots the shoreline or farmer’s fields. Could we expect to see more wind turbines designed for urban environments in the near future?

Wind turbines are being developed in all shapes and sizes. The investments in research and development of renewable energy technology is crucial to help design the applications that we can use to best harness the power of our natural resources. We are seeing more wind turbines designed for urban environments. GLREA tells our members and residents that call us or come to our educational seminars that when buying and installing renewable energy systems and purchasing renewable energy, you need to think about saving energy first through energy efficient applications and then explore the renewable energy resource potential in your area and decide which renewable energy applications will work best to meet your energy needs.

Ann Arbor-based Accio Energy is often seen as a start-up with technology that could revolutionize how man harnesses the power in wind. What’s your take on this new technology? Could it live up to its game-changing hypes and if so what would that mean for the local economy?

The technology that Accio Energy is developing, wind turbines without moving parts, is very exciting. This is an example of the kind of innovative technology that has to be explored to solve our global energy demands. I do not think that there will be a silver bullet solution. To meet our energy demands of tomorrow, it will take a diversified portfolio of energy resources. We are moving our global use of energy to get to the most efficient and cleanest use of energy. Michigan possesses the research and development capabilities to become a leader in sustainable energy development and the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is here to help make that happen in Michigan.

If there is one thing Metro Detroit doesn’t lack is busy freeways. Could we see the day when turbines line them to generate alternative energy?

Of course, Europe has had solar arrays lining their highways for years and Michigan uses the panels that help light signs. I think wind turbines could be used if the resource is available.

Name one thing the local business community could do to help push forward the development of the wind energy?

Just being informed on the technology and the possibilities of wind energy and other forms of renewable energy will help the business community move towards using wind energy and getting involved in the wind industry business in Michigan. Of course attending the Michigan Wind Energy Conference at Cobo Hall in Detroit on April 20th and 21st would be a great step towards learning how other Michigan businesses moved into the wind industry, what Michigan utilities are planning and investing in this industry, the siting of wind turbines, how off-shore wind projects are being developed in Europe and more.

Source: Jennifer Alvarado, executive director of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association

Michigan Wind Energy Conference
April 20th & 21st 2010 • Detroit, MI • COBO Center

Wind energy is expected to bring major economic and environmental benefits to Michigan including new jobs in manufacturing wind turbine components, maintenance and installation. A greater use of wind power has the potential to impact:

* Local government officials and planners
* Farmers and landowners
* Manufacturers and potential suppliers to the wind industry
* Building owners and managers
* Contractors
* Attorneys and consultants
* Educational and training organizations interested in green jobs
* Colleges and universities interested in wind energy research
* Environmental groups

The 2009 Michigan Wind Energy Conference was held March 3rd and 4th in Detroit, Michigan. The conference attracted 1,500 attendees for the two-day event and over 25 exhibitors. Presentations on the UK’s Offshore Expansion, the U.S. View of Wind Development, Michigan Manufacturing Capacity, the Green Jobs Market, Carbon Caps, Commercial Wind, Transmission, Community Wind Development, Off-Shore Wind Development, and Small Wind Opportunities were featured at the event.


The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is a non-profit organization that educates, advocates, promotes, and publicly demonstrates renewable energy technologies.

The Mission of GLREA is to increase the mainstream use of renewable energy technologies and sustainable energy practices.

National interest in safe sustainable energy technologies is growing daily. With utility restructuring occurring all over the country, the opportunity for customer choice of greener energy consumption has never been greater.

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association invites you to explore that possibility and learn about the world of renewable energy.


By Jon Zemke, Metromode, www.metromodemedia.com