A Mighty Wind in Iowa

The hunt for clean renewable energy is on. Methods that have been around for centuries are attracting new interest and old technology has become new again. I doubt that there is any technology older than the force of the wind. All of us have seen paintings of windmills drawn in the Renaissance by the Great Artists of that time. Wind power is a technology that has always been available but never fully exploited, up until now.

With the rising cost of fossil fuel both in actual dollars and in the damage done to the environment clean, renewable wind energy is attracting attention all over the world. There have always been technological problems with the durability and effectiveness of the generators employed in this type of energy. This particular type of energy may have needed to wait for today's new miracle materials and production methods to attain the durability and size required to be productive and profitable. The following article in "The Week in Germany" describes how Siemens AG is investing $17 Million to build a plant in Iowa that manufactures wind turbines that produce energy. With this type of investment, it is clear that this segment of the energy market is growing and is a serious source of new energy.

Siemens AG Announces Plans to Build Wind Turbines in Iowa

Siemens Power Generation, a subsidiary of the German firm Siemens AG, announced plans to invest over $17 million in a new wind turbine manufacturing facility in Fort Madison, Iowa. The plant will increase Siemen's production capacity to better serve the growing US wind energy market.

The site, to be built in a shuttered truck trailer factory, will cast massive rotor blades (about 45 m in length) in one piece from a glass-fiber-reinforced epoxy resin using an environmentally friendly process patented by Siemens.

State and local economic development officials hailed the project as a victory for an area of southwestern Iowa that has been hit hard by cuts in the manufacturing industry. The plant will create an estimated 250 jobs that pay an average of approximately $19 per hour.

Siemens Power Generation chief executive Randy Zwirn noted that the decision to increase wind turbine production capacity in Iowa came in response to forecasts that the US market for wind energy will triple by 2020. While wind only accounts for 1 percent of America’s total electricity supply currently, the US Department of Energy has set a target of obtaining six percent of the nation's energy from wind by 2020. In Germany, where Siemens has provided the technology for numerous wind farms, wind already accounts for 4.3 percent of the energy supply (as of 2005), according to statistics from the Federal Ministry for the Environment.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) praised the plan, noting the role of tax subsidies: "With the recently adopted wind energy tax credits, we're well positioned to increase the renewable power generation sources in the U.S. in the future, and with this new Siemens facility, Iowa will be at the epicenter of supplying clean, alternative energy sources." The Des Moines Register reported that Siemens will receive $1.6 million in forgivable loans, over $800,000 in tax refunds, and $2 million in tax increment finance funds to build the plant.


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