When I drive on Cleveland’s freeway system, I can see a power-generating wind turbine in action. The sight of it reminds me of a movie set from one of those late 1950 science fiction films. Life in the not-too-distant future is a realm of solar installations, biodomes and, yes, wind farms.
As energy costs rise, a special breed of engineers and scientists are working on harnessing the wind that’s constantly blowing across our planet. Some of them belong to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The AWEA is a national trade association representing wind power project developers, equipment suppliers, services providers, parts manufacturers, utilities, researchers, and others involved in the wind industry—one of the world's fastest growing energy industries. In addition, AWEA represents hundreds of wind energy advocates from around the world.
One way to increase interest in the potential benefits of wind power is to install wind turbines in very visible, highly trafficked locations. Cleveland’s Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, is one such place.
Progressive Field is one of baseball’s best, and it’s a tourist attraction during the spring and summer months. When the Indians are in town, the local small businesses in the area bring in much-needed revenue.
The wind turbine that’s being installed at Progressive Field is an 18-foot-wide “helix” turbine. It was developed by Majid Rashidi, the chairman of Cleveland State University’s department of engineering technology.
When it’s completed in March of next year, it will be quite the sight—translucent white and lit from within by colored LED lights. The turbine will be the culmination of three entities working together: the U.S. government, a university and a local business.
In 2008, The U.S. Department of Energy approved a $1.1 million grant for Cleveland State University to design and install two structures based on Rashidi's patented wind-power system. The newest prototype of that system will be working at Progressive Field.
Other stadiums have implemented innovative energy solutions. The Philadelphia Eagles’ home field, Lincoln Financial Field, partnered with Florida company SolarBlue to install 2,500 solar panels on the exterior of the stadium. It also put in 80 spiral wind turbines on the stadium rim.
Home to the Washington Redskins football team, FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, is tapping the sun’s energy. This stadium recently installed 8,000 solar-energy panels. A statue called “Solar Man” celebrates these renewable energy initiatives.
Time for change
There’s a little less excitement lately for all things “green.” It may have to do with our nation’s slow economy. Endless political bickering in Washington isn’t helping either.
Small-business owners are headed into 2012 with lots of fears. Investing in green technologies may not be at the top of the list for many small-business owners.
But initiatives like those at sports stadiums are visible reminders that things we take for granted (like the wind and the sun) could provide us with renewable sources of energy and of power. In the years to come, those solutions may become more applicable in the small-business arena.
What do you think about the future of green technology? Are you implementing them in your small business?