Iowa provost offers snapshot of Iowa’s wind generation

Source: By Jennifer DeWitt, Quad City Times • Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Iowa has emerged as a real powerhouse in the area of wind energy and stands to continue benefiting from its growth.

That was the message University of Iowa Provost Barry Butler shared Monday as he discussed the future of wind energy at the Davenport Rotary Club meeting at The Outing Club, Davenport.

“Iowa embraced wind in the 1980s and got strong,” he said, adding that was when he got involved in the renewable energy, particularly on the research side.

In terms of wind energy installed, he said Iowa is the third highest in the nation with 5,177 megawatts installed as of last year.

“We’ll probably pass California late this year or next year. (The two states) keep going back and forth between second,” he said.

The nation’s leader is Texas, which as of 2013 had 12,354 megawatts of wind energy installed.

Butler, who also is the university’s executive vice president and full professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, told the almost 70 Rotarians that Iowa also is second in the Top 10 states for wind generation. Iowa produces enough wind power to power 1.4 million homes, he said, pointing out that Iowa has 1.2 million households.

But the way wind is delivered and produced, he said the power goes where it is needed.

“It’s not like you’re only producing it for your own backyard,” he said.

Butler’s interest and expertise has led him to co-chair a research and development committee for the American Wind Energy Association as well as participate on a Wind Visioning Committee through the U.S. Department of Energy. He said the group is studying many of the factors, including costs, population and workforce availability, to determine “is it possible to have 50 percent (of energy produced by) wind by 2050.”

After his brief program, Butler said he hoped the audience realized “Iowa is a leader in the country, and the world, in wind energy.”

That early investment, he said, has positioned Iowa to benefit from wind revenues, the environmental impact and related manufacturing growth.

“Since we are ahead of the game, it is in our best interest for wind to be prosperous,” he said