Wind powers factories (and not just BMW’s)

On Sunday evening, during the annual television-commercial showcase known as the Super Bowl, viewers got a chuckle from a spot showing a 1990s Today Show clip of hosts Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric trying to figure out what, exactly, this thing called the Internet is. The commercial then jumps to 2015, when the famous morning-show duo are once again trying to get their heads around some new technology—this time, the BMW i-3, an all-electric car that comes from a factory powered by wind.

Later appearing on the screen are the words, Big ideas take a little getting used to.

The line is referring to BMW’s electric vehicle, of course, but it just as easily could have been alluding to the wind energy that helps make the car.

In fact, the BMW i3 plant in Leipzig, Germany is not the only wind-powered factory. Just last week came the news that a pair of American manufacturers are installing a total of five 1.5 MW wind turbines to power their facilities in Findlay, Ohio. American manufacturing icon Whirlpool will take energy from two of the turbines at the Findlay Wind Farm, as the project will be called, and the other turbines will serve nearby Ball Corp.

The turbines are expected to meet approximately 22 percent of Whirlpool’s power needs at the factory. One Energy, which specializes in providing on-site wind generation for large industrial consumers, is financing the project. According to the company, the typical return on investment for one of its on-site wind projects of 1.5 MW to 5 MW is between four and six years. That means that not only do such projects reduce emissions from the industrial sector, they can make good business sense as well, locking in stable, affordable prices.

One Energy has installed over 1,000 turbines. Other companies, such as Foundation Windpower, also serve large industrial electricity consumers. So, the BMW plant that 114 million people learned about on Sunday evening is hardly the only wind powered industry facility.

Like BMW, Whirlpool views the use of wind energy as a good fit with its products.  “The dishwashers we make in Findlay are designed to lower energy and water consumption for our consumers while improving performance, the same as the Findlay Wind Farm will do for our plant,” said Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director at Whirlpool Corp.

Construction on the project is scheduled to begin in the spring, with the turbines slated to be operational later this year.


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