Monday, May 19, 2008

Mighty Wind

Using the major US political parties as examples (good or bad), the “energy industry” is a big tent. We no sooner put OTC.08 behind us than Houston throws the WINDPOWER 2008 conference and exhibition, 1-4 June.

WINDPOWER 2008 includes 300 speakers, 150 poster presentations and more than 50 sessions on leading wind energy topics. The exhibition will be an “impressive display from over 750 of the leading companies from all facets of the wind energy industry.” The list of exhibitors demonstrates what I mean.

There’s widespread disdain for ethanol and its subsidies (see some of that attitude here). But the general sense is that wind power is the fastest growing alternative energy segment available to us. The US Energy Department, in cooperation with “industry,” suggests that wind energy could generate 20% of US electricity by 2030 – a jump from about 1% today.

Even among traditional players in the hydrocarbon biz, there’s horsepower behind wind power. BP and GE are a couple of WINDPOWER 2008’s “Tera-Watt Sponsors,” though Sam Hopkins of Energy & Capital newsletter fame said recently Shell has pulled out of one offshore wind farm project. Still, I hope you won’t tell me you’ve missed the print campaigns from companies like Suzlon in The Economist, or GE’s imaginative wind turbine commercials. (And really, DON’T tell me you missed the GE “Vikings” TV spot.)

Even the last “briefing breakfast” of OTC that I attended, thanks to the UK Trade & Investment team, offered a good look at the potentiality of wind power as a supplemental resource – though speakers kept trying to sneak in hydro-dynamic power, it’s an offshore conference after all. Still, if you can engineer and maintain a monster FPSO offshore Nigeria, you can sure do the same for a wind farm offshore Connecticut or Denmark (like today’s post photo).

The event offers more opportunities for marketers. There are beaucoup large and small players who are in wind energy for good, solid business reasons as well as the chance to participate in greener initiatives. And if the Feds are right, we’re looking at 75,000 new and bigger wind turbines, a hell of an infrastructure jump. That’s a lot of “green collar” jobs added to our economy.

WINDPOWER 2008 won’t be as gimongous as OTC but I don’t want to miss it. Its projections mean not only more advertising – from retail (as described here, e.g.) to business-to-business.

It means more marketing: Giving customers solid “reasons to buy,” not just hot air.


Richard Laurence Baron said...

There's always an "on the other hand." Gabriel Sherman, in the April issue of WIRED, writes that GE's spending on green initiatives (like wind power) had relatively little impact on its stock price over a two-year period.

From 2005 to 2007, the GE stock price rose about $4, to over $37 per share. Sadly, either the recession or the high cost of oil has depressed GE's price again, to just over $32 per share - back to its 2005 range.

Sherman's point: GE stockholders don't value the stock higher because of its green-tech R&D spending. Or that greenies don't spend money on large blocks of stock.

Ann Hewitt said...

What does $2 billion dollars, T. Boone Pickens, Pampas, TX have in common? Wind power! Way to go Pickens & Texas.