Wind and Water: Expanding Energy Technologies

November 20, 1981

Report Outline
New Interest in Wind Power
Directions of Wind Research
Promise of Hydroelectricity
Special Focus

New Interest in Wind Power

Renewable Fuels and U.S. Energy Picture

The United States has been on a high-fossil-fuel diet for most of the 20th century. At the turn of the century coal was king. Then came oil and natural gas. Nuclear power was to be the fuel of the future. But energy experts now predict that the nation's energy future will also include significant amounts of renewable fuel sources. For example, Virginia Electric and Power Co. (VEPCO), once a staunch advocate of nuclear power, is now considering the use of wind, water, solar power, wood, peat and municipal refuse to produce electricity.

VEPCO President William W. Berry announced at a Nov. 10 press conference that the utility was beginning an “unbiased, systematic search for the lowest cost option or combination of options for meeting future demand.” First priority, he said, will go to reducing demand through conservation and “load management,” or storing power in off hours for use in peak periods. To generate any additional power needed, Berry said, alternative fuels would be considered if VEPCO found them to be economically and environmentally acceptable.

Millions of homeowners and businesses throughout the United States already have begun to use alternative energy technologies. For example, wood now provides about 3 percent of the nation's residential fuel supply. Interest in solar energy is growing steadily as the technology advances and the cost of hardware declines. Wind power — an indirect form of solar energy since it is created by air heated by the sun's rays and cooled by their absence — may soon provide significant amounts of electricity in this nation and around the world.

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