Submitted by New Energy News Blog

Some people call modern wind turbines “wind mills.” That is as archaic as calling a Corvette a “buggy.”

Wind energy was second only to natural gas in providing new electricity in the U.S. in 2007. Just because wind is an emissions-free source of electricity does not mean it is any less substantial than the traditional, greenhouse gas-emitting sources. It is as legitimate and reliable and essential a source of power for the U.S. grid as any fossil fuel.

And wind energy has achieved what the solar industry calls grid parity, which means wind energy-generated electricity is now cost-competitive with fossil fuel sources.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, and many others in the wind energy industry believe that when more citizens understand how substantial and mainstream wind power is, they will not tolerate leaders who refuse to offer it at least the same policy support provided to Old Energies.

Ditlev Engel, CEO, Vestas: “We want to show people: Here’s technology you have but don’t use…All Danes know what a wind turbine is…But in the U.S., wind is just 1% of the total and the turbines are in select areas.”

In Denmark, wind energy provides 20% of the electricity.

Vestas is going to invest $100 million over the next 2 years in educating U.S. citizens about wind energy on the assumption that when Americans find out more about wind energy, they will want more.

This is exactly the same impulse behind The Pickens Plan, energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens’ $58 million dollar campaign to convince the U.S. of the validity of his plan to move the U.S. away from imported oil and toward wind energy.

Tired of waiting for a minority of obstructionists in the U.S. Senate to come around, Pickens, Vestas and others who are invested in and believe in wind are taking their case to the people. They seem determined to demonstrate on behalf of New Energy that when the people lead, leaders follow.

Seth Farbman, managing director/ Greenery group head, Ogilvy & Mather: “Consumers aren’t going to run out and buy wind turbines, but they do influence government and politicians…If politicians feel that constituents support alternative energies like this, they’re more likely to support legislation that allows these technologies to grow more quickly…”

The “get ‘em when they’re young” angle: Besides the print, online, radio and TV spots, Vestas has placed displays and play stations of LEGO toy turbines in U.S. airports like LAX and JFK in NYC.

There is something in it for the American people, too: The ad campaign also seeks to send U.S. workers to Vestas and other companies in the wind energy industry where they will find a windfall of job and career opportunities.

The first of the Vestas ads. From Vestas via YouTube.

Vestas Launches $100 Million Consumer Ad Campaign In U.S.
Yuliya Chernova, August 25, 2008 (Dow Jones via CNN Money)

Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Ditlev Engel, CEO); T. Boone Pickens; American Wind Energy Association (AWEA); Ogilvy & Mather (Seth Farbman, managing director/ Greenery group head)

Vestas, No. 1 in Modern Energy is a $100 million advertising campaign from Vestas aimed at educating the U.S. public about the potential of wind energy.

The Pickens Plan. From campaigntvads via YouTube.

– The Vestas $100 million public relations campaign will extend over 2 years.
– This is Vestas’ first ad campaign aimed at consumers.

– Vestas is based in Randers, Denmark.
– In Denmark, wind provides 20% of the electricity.
– In the U.S., wind provides 1% to 2% of the electricity.
– In Europe, LEGO has a popular Vestas turbine-making toy.

– Vestas is the biggest turbine manufacturer in the world and sells 23% of all wind turbines.
– Many Americans understand New Energy to mean solar energy but wind energy is more cost-competitive and has more built capacity.
– The ad campaign comes a Vestas push expanding its presence in the U.S. It has recently built new manufacturing capacity in Colorado and employs 1,220 people in the U.S. (which will grow to 4,000 by the end of 2010).
– Vestas has 18,000 employees and 2/3 are non-Danes. ~70% of company shares are foreign-owned. 99.8% of revenue comes from outside Denmark.
– The new ad campaigns from Vestas and Pickens emphasize wind’s potential as a solution for dependence on imported fossil fuels and as a solution for global climate change.
– AWEA preceded the big media splashes with a radio campaign last year.
– The model for these big P.R. campaigns is the success of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
– GE and DuPont have run similar campaigns, aimed at consumers and at affecting public opinion.

GE wind power ad. From GE via YouTube.

– Julia Bovey, media director, Natural Resources Defense Council: “Being in the hearts and minds of the public can make a big difference if you’re in a political fight…”
– Ditlev Engel, CEO, Vestas: “We want people to take wind into the equation…”
– Seth Farbman, managing director/ Greenery group head, Ogilvy & Mather: “We all understand there’s a need for renewable energy, and wind is one of them. But we don’t know yet which companies will fulfill that need…It’s still early enough in the game where a company can gain some of that leadership, in the sense of influence over regulation and better visibility when they’re selling in this space.”
– Ditlev Engel, CEO, Vestas: “We want to create a borderless organization…”

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