Burlington, Vermont’s largest city proudly announces that it now gets 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy sources. A publicly owned utility, the Burlington Electric Department, earns the distinction of achieving this remarkable feat. This amazing accomplishment was made possible by the purchase and establishment of the 7.4 megawatt Winooski One project on the city’s outskirts.
There are now three renewable energy sources that can be tapped by BED to meet all their electricity needs. These include water, wind and biomass, the three green energy sources providing BED customers with all their net energy demands.
With this project, BED now joins with Washington Electric Cooperatives, which provides electricity to approximately 11,000 customers in central and northern Vermont, as electric utilities providing 100 per cent of the area’s electricity from renewable energy sources.
The same thing is going on in one country across the Atlantic. German solar is also going on full-swing. Germany is the country that pushes hard in finding a solution to global warming.
The effort of this country in going all-in on renewable energy is manifested by the towering symbols that it has established in the middle of the North Sea. These symbols are actually wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland and stretching as high as 60-storey buildings.
Renewable energy: what is the cost?
These structures cost the country approximately $30 million per unit. On some of these wind turbines, a single blade is roughly equivalent to the wingspan of the Airbus A380, the biggest airliner that flies the sky today.
German solar plans calls for the establishment of scores of new turbines by year’s end. These turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities several hundred miles to the south.
This is another milestone in Germany’s expensive plans to transform its electricity system. The German solar plan has already produced remarkable results. It is projected that the Germans will soon be producing 30% of their energy demands from renewable sources.
Many countries have the same goal, but by far, Germany is the biggest industrial power which has reached that enviable level at present. The renewable energy capacity of this country is more than twice that of the United States.
Burlington’s predictions for the future
Getting back to Vermont, the state has a program of generating 90 per cent of its energy, including transportation and heating from renewable sources by the year 2050. “….we’re able to do it cost effectively in a way that makes Vermonters really positioned well for the future,” says Christopher Recchia, Vermont Department of Public Services commissioner.
Its green energy efforts have encouraged similar programs across the United States in response to public demands for a change from fossil fuels which is harmful to the environment.
But this could not be possible without Vermont’s decades of planning. “The transition in thought from 2004 to 2008 was ‘We want to do this’ to ‘this actually makes economic sense for us to do this’,” says Ken Nolan, BED power resources manager.