Winds of Change: Congressman Jerry McNerney & Michael Payne

This week on Sea Change Radio, Part 2 of our 2-part series on wind power. First, we hear again from US Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11), the only member of either House who’s also a wind power engineer. Next, the US is lagging far behind Europe in the move toward renewable energy sources. To find out why, host Alex Wise talks once more to Michael Payne, a veteran wind power executive who’s served as Shell WindEnergy’s General Manager of Europe & Asia as well as a Director at Enron Wind. Payne offers his perspective on the policy and business factors that will help direct the winds of change.

For a better idea of the size of the renewable energy gap between the U.S. and Europe, 9.1% of the total energy capacity of the European Union now comes from wind, up from just 2.2% in 2000. By contrast, in the U.S., coal-fired plants contributed 44.8 percent of total power generation in 2010 while renewables (hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) combined to generate around 10% of our nation’s electricity. Wind power itself accounts for only about 2% of the electricity generated in the United States.