On CNN, AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan highlights wind power’s progress

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan explained to CNN that we are “30 times more efficient than we were several decades ago” in a segment highlighting wind power’s progress.

The segment was a part of CNN anchor Richard Quest’s “Tomorrow Transformed” series, which looks at how technological advances are changing our lives. Watch it here:

The images below from the segment’s opening show wind power’s technological progress from windmills, to small lattice tower turbines, to today’s modern wind turbines:

A partial transcript is below:

HOST RICHARD QUEST: For centuries, the humble windmill has been used for pumping water and grinding grain. Its role grew when the wind turbine was created, designed specifically to generate power. So today, around 2.5 percent of the world’s electricity is produced by wind. And the industry hopes its output will quadruple in five years. It’s technology driving growth.

AWEA CEO TOM KIERNAN: The technological advances have been what has driven the wind industry. When you compare turbine to turbine over the last couple of decades, we are 30 times more efficient than we were several decades ago because of the use of information and computer technologies.

QUEST: Squeezing more energy out of thin air involves equipping the turbines with lasers that allows them to communicate with each other – as operators keep a watchful eye in high-tech control centers. Like this one in San Diego.

KIERNAN: We can then communicate with the utilities, with the grid operators, to say here’s how much wind we’re going to have available in the next hour, in the next two hours, so that they can effectively manage wind onto the grid.

ALICE HERBERT, OPERATIONS CONTROL CENTER, EDF: Before it was like calling the turbine “ring ring ring” and then now you have those big screens that are showing everything in real time, like “this.”

QUEST: Worldwide there are now more than 200,000 turbines on land and offshore.

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