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A 'wind'-fall: economically viable industry holds hope for the future.

Of the fields said to be recession-resistant industries, "green engineering" is near the top of the list. News commentators are forecasting a number of job openings. Companies will be hiring workers to figure out how to recapture steam to provide heat, to create energy from braking efforts, and to generate power from the wind.

If businesses establish more efficient technology practice, they will save money--and will help save the environment.

Biofuel, for instance, is another "green" sub-industry about to grow. A cellulose-based biofuel called Swift Fuel was tested on Earth Day in a Continental-powered Bonanza to replace 100LL aviation fuel. The maker of the fuel claims it costs half as much as aviation gas to manufacture and can deliver more miles per gallon.

I see wind turbines as having one of the largest global impacts. New wind power generators in the United States during the last two years topped all installations in the world. Europe is building them too; Germany is a pioneer in the industry. China, Spain, France, and India are seeing wind power booms.

Even though a wind turbine is said to cost about $2 million per megawatt (enough to power about 240,000 homes), the technology is the most economically viable at present.

One of the oldest wind farms in operation is the Altamont Pass Wind Farm in California. Built in the 1970s during the energy crisis of that decade, it has thousands of wind turbines.


I've traveled Interstate 580 that cuts through the middle of the wind farm. It's an astounding sight to see the turbines in action. Many are small in size, compared to some of the 100m towers now in use.

Those large structures have over 8,000 components. The gearboxes, bearings, and generators made by manufacturers are crucial to the industry. That's where companies from all over the world can get involved.

And one more thing: Long may the wind blow.

Dennis G. Seeds

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Title Annotation:larger margin
Author:Seeds, Dennis G.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:May 1, 2009
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