Bosch-Rexroth Corp. CEO and President Berend Bracht announced yesterday that the company would invest $247 million in a new plant in Germany to build large gearing systems for wind farms. In an interview yesterday, I asked him why wind turbines have not taken off in the U.S. as they have in Germany. The reason, he suggested without actually saying so, lies squarely at the feet of Congress and the White House, which both have failed to act. The wind was the back of the industry "seven or eight years ago" but then entered the doldrums, according to Bracht.
Last year, U.S wind turbine electricity output grew 45% after years of stagnation relative to leaders like Germany, according to the 2007 Global Wind Report..
Germany has installed so many wind turbines, land space to locate more is running out. So now they move off-shore with the first "wind park" expected to go online next year in the North Sea. In 2007, German wind turbines collectively produced 22.2k megawatts out of worldwide total of 94k megawatts and numbered 19,460 units, according to the 2007 Global Wind Report . Their creation as "priviledged projects" through aggressive government incentives starting in 1991 also has produced 70,000 jobs. It was a year ago I shot video on the beautiful wind turbines dotting the landscape of northern and central Germany.
Bracht sees 20-25% growth in China, and a better future here. Asked who he supports for president, he offered a terse and not unexpected "no comment." Then he added with respect to the U.S. market: "It’s gaining and will continue no matter who is sitting in the White House." With oil and gas prices rising increasing daily, active government support at the federal, state and local levels for renewables is imperative. So far, that’s been badly lacking. Case in point: I asked my local building inspector several months ago a couple of times about tower height restrictions . He said he knew nothing about it and would get back to me. I am still waiting to hear.