Along with continuous improvement in making turbine blades bigger and lighter and replacing some nacelle components, composites could be used to make tall towers. The University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) has recently been awarded funding to design and test structures and materials for composite wind turbine towers up to 100 meters in height.

In your opinion what would help the composites industry expand its presence in the wind energy market?

The composite industry needs substantial R&D and commercialization funding to make the U.S. wind industry technologically and financially competitive for next-generation wind turbine designs.

How many turbines were installed in the U.S. and globally this year as compared to last year and what you expect for 2010?

The U.S. wind energy industry installed over 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind power generating capacity in 2009, the largest year in U.S. history, and enough to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes or generate as much electricity as three large nuclear power plants.

How does the U.S. fare in its use of renewable energy compared to other countries?

In 2009, China passed the U.S. in new installations and in manufacturing of wind turbines. The U.S. still remains the largest market in cumulative capacity for the second year in a row but here again China is hard on our heels. If this isn’t the ‘case-closed’ evidence illustrating that America must have a stable renewable energy policy and hard targets in order to create jobs and revitalize our economy, I don’t know what is. China gets it, 37 other nations get it, and we still don’t. It is time to act now on a national RES so that America can immediately create manufacturing jobs and be the world wind power leader. The economy can’t wait, job creation can’t wait, and America can’t wait.

Is offshore energy viable? If so, when will it be a reality?

As of the end of 2009, ten countries have wind projects installed offshore providing clean, renewable electricity: Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. These projects account for 2072 MW total offshore wind installed and grid connected.

How does the U.S. compare?

Offshore wind power is gaining momentum in the U.S. Both the federal government and several states established significant milestones in 2009 to encourage offshore wind power development. In April 2010, Secretary Salazar announced the Record of Decision for the Cape Wind project proposed in Nantucket Sound. This final approval demonstrates that the U.S. is serious about deploying offshore wind and about competing in the global race for manufacturing jobs.