My first day at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA)** annual conference and exhibition in Houston has given me one more nugget of evidence that things are just a little bigger in Texas. WINDPOWER 2008 is expected to draw over 10,000 attendees over the course of the four-day event - up from 7,000 attendees at the 2007 event in Los Angeles.
The massive 1/4 mile long exhibition floor at the George R. Brown Convention Center includes displays from some 770 exhibitors, ranging from wind turbine, and component manufacturers, to wind energy financiers, wind farm siting professionals, contractors, and maintenance equipment vendors (to name just a few).
The activity on the floor of the exhibition hall is only a part of WINDPOWER 2008 as the conference program will feature 300 speakers and moderators, 150 poster presentations, and over 50 panel sessions. The panel topics are organized into six daily tracks: Finance, Wind Power Growth, Resource Assesment, Key Issues, Wind at the Epicenter, and my personal favorite, Policy.
It seems fitting that AWEA's biggest conference to date takes place in here in Texas. Why? Texas has installed more wind energy and is planning more transmission infrastructure in the U.S. than any other U.S. state. Add to that, Houston's position as a leader in the oil and gas industry, and you have what seems like a good fit. I just wish it wasn't so humid.
It is quite clear to me, and anyone else attending this year's event in Houston that wind energy is big business - a far cry from the days where it was seen as a fringe power source only being harnessed by a few rural landowners and aging off-grid hippies. Wind energy has finally come of age.
**Very special thanks to the folks at American Wind Energy Association for their generous support, which has afforded me the opportunity to attend this excellent event and report back to you all about all of the goings on.