In the 1970s, small Danish irrigation company Danregn entered the wind power trade, selling a turbine with 22 kW capacity. (Today’s largest turbines have almost 700 times the capacity.)
The enterprise became Danregn Vindkraft in 1981 with initial capital equivalent to about $150,000 in 2022 dollars. It was led by 34-year-old Peter Stubkjær Sørensen, son of Danregn’s founder. To aid marketing in North America, the company changed its name to Bonus Energy in 1983.
Sørensen told Danish newspaper Berlingske:
When we entered the wind industry, people screamed with laughter. Our friends and acquaintances had difficulty seeing the future in it. The normal reaction to the company was that we were crazy. I worked in my father’s company five days a week, and on Saturday and Sunday I drove out and sold windmills.
Bonus Energy became one of the world’s top wind power suppliers. German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG entered the growing wind energy industry by acquiring Bonus Energy for DKK 2 billion in 2004. Sørensen, who left school at 14 to apprentice in the trades, exited the wind company and today remains one of Denmark’s wealthiest investors.
This week, a Siemens unit set a world record for the most power output by a single wind turbine in a 24-hour period: 359 megawatt-hours, which is said to be enough to power each of 1,800 mid-sized electric vehicles for 1,000 kms.
Although humans have harnessed wind energy for 1,400 years or more, global capacity only began to grow substantially in the 21st century. Growth is a fraction of that needed if Earth is to achieve net-zero carbon before climate disaster overtakes humanity.
That wind energy is resisted in British Columbia and other parts of the world demonstrates the political power of entrenched energy producers. USA’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy states:
Wind energy is affordable. Wind prices for power contracts signed in the last few years are 1.5–4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Compare that to British Columbia’s Site C power project where electricity will cost between 15 and 18 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Although wind power is cheap and clean, its output is variable. In Germany, Max Boegl Wind AG says a water battery can address that problem:
The innovative combination of renewable energy sources and a pumped-storage power plant creates a powerful storage system for flexible power supply. The Water Battery acts as a short-term storage facility and helps maintain the grid stability.
Of course, British Columbia’s provincial utility, with 96 percent of its generating capacity at hydro facilities, could easily meet future demand growth by generating wind power without using pumped storage to ensure a reliable and resilient grid. BC Hydro’s reservoirs already exist as batteries.
Categories: Energy - Wind