Starbucks opens eco-store, 50th in France

Starbucks France celebrated last week (July 1st) the opening of its 50th store in the country, with all the Starbucks high brass in attendance.  Located in the Disney Village at Disneyland outside of Paris, this store is the first “eco-responsible” Starbucks outside of Seattle, where they have already opened two such eco-concept stores. 

The concept and design of this Eco-Responsible Starbucks is “an evolution of the Third Place concept,” whereby, according to the company, Starbucks would be the third “go to” place behind the home and the workplace.

Starbucks Disney Paris Eco Store: Light within a Light Concept
 Light within a light decorations

In keeping with a Sustainable Development approach, the design of the store was conceived by using as many local partners as possible (furnishings were all provided by businesses within a radius of 30 km of the store) and to be strongly ingrained with the local [“Disney”] community.

One of the highlight points was that this Starbucks store is LEED certified.  Now recognized in some 90 countries, LEED has become an international standard for benchmarking energy consumption and CO2 emissions.  Three pillars to the eco-conception: natural ventilation for the air conditioning system (-30% reduction in energy), LED and fluo-compact lighting (-90% in electricity consumption in the public zones of the store), and various water reducing mechanisms (mousser, sensor systems…) which are expected to reduce water consumption by 49%. 

Starbucks Euro Disney Store: Wine Rack Lighting 
Wine rack used for ceiling decoration

This Disney Village Starbucks features a number of recycled materials and objects, including using wine racks for lighting (pictured) and ceiling decorations, wood from wine barrels, airplane carpeting and used leather from jettisoned cars. 

Starbucks Founder CEO Howard Schultz in ParisI spoke with CEO and founder, Howard Schultz who was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon, and asked about when Starbucks would make it to coffee-paradise Italy?  He said that there were no definitive plans, but that Italy’s day would come some day.  Meanwhile, in another coffee-loving country, Turkey, Schultz was quick to say how well Starbucks has done there. 

Starbucks Community Involvement
Around the store were plaques that made for casual reading and reaffirm Starbucks’ official policy regarding its community involvement (pictured left) and environmental stewardship.  In all, the Starbucks store continues to provide a different way to enjoy coffee and clearly the Starbucks employees (“partners”) were enjoying the new concept.  Starbucks plan to generalize this concept throughout its network for all new stores and any renovations.  Read here for more on their own news wire.

Irony of the opening ceremony was how hard it was to get served a coffee.  A little “pull” and I was served.  After the store opening ceremony, Starbucks “partners” in France were invited to a 5-year anniversary party in a big tent behind the 50th store.  I took a sneak preview and enjoyed a few words with a woman there to teach about Starbucks’ philosophy regarding bean selection and coffee-making.  Kudos to Starbucks France Managing Director and fellow INSEAD grad Philippe Sanchez.

Incandescent Light Bulbs banned in Europe by 2012

Stop Wasting Electricity - Light BulbThe European Union voted in October 2008 to ban outright incandescent light bulbs which transform a miserable 5% of the electricity into light. On Monday this week, they published the timing for the suppression of these inefficient incandescent bulbs over the next four years. Starting September 1st 2009, the sale of 100+ watt bulbs will be banned throughout Europe. Over the following two years, the 75W+ and 60W+ will go from European store shelves. And finally, as of September 1st 2012, all classic incandescent bulbs will disappear. Even poor performing halogen bulbs will be targeted (objective to eliminate these by 2016).

A couple of comments: Australia was the first country to vote the end of incandescent bulbs (an outright ban by 2010). The US Congress voted at the end of 2007 the ban of incandescent bulbs by the end of 2014. Europe has voted one year after the US to end these polluting bulbs two years before the US.

With regard to the European decision, they estimate that a household will save 50 euros per year by moving to the low consumption options. Taken in another light, so to speak, this could sound like a stimulus package for the economy? Le Figaro suggested that the savings for all Europe would amount to between 5 and 10 billion euros annually. Admittedly I don’t know the efficiency in the production of the compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or other low consumption bulbs, but I am going to hope that the life cycle analysis shows that the halogen or the LED (Light Emitting Diode) is indeed a winner for the environment. Advocates argue that the CFL lasts five years longer and uses about 75 percent less energy than the incandescent bulb. From one article (Red, Green & Blue blog), I note that the 60% reduction in energy consumption would translate into a reduction of 30 million tonnes of CO2 for Europe. The LED option, whose sales have been increasing 40-60% per year, costs a lot more than the incandescent polluter, but the almost infinite durability and tremendous efficiency make a winning proposition as long as you don’t drop it along route from the store.

It is worth noting that, as detractors of this decision state, CFLs contain mercury. CFL’s are still a little bulkier and don’t fit all fixtures. For others, the European decision does not go far enough (e.g. Ban-the-Bulb). So, it may yet be hard to always look on the bright side of light. Nonetheless, I believe that such a decision will, among other things, continue to bring home the need to take action. Like “quota” systems (e.g. Norway’s women on corporate boards…), this law is perhaps anti-free market and will have its detractors. It will obviously change the landscape of the light bulb market (affecting electricians, lamp manufacturers and more). Nonetheless, there are justifiable impositions and, in this case (as in the case of the Norwegian quota) I cast my vote in favour. What about you?

Finding a CRM Voice – The Right Values, Meaning & Frequency

Customizing your Real Message & Finding a CRM Voice?

As I mentioned in the prior post, I believe that the consumer world is in the midst of a true paradigm shift. In these dire economic times, there is a huge likelihood that the ongoing increase in the share of time and mind of the Internet is going to accelerate. The consumer will turn to the Internet even more because it offers useful new tools and services that cater specifically to the needs of people living in harder times. (Read here for more about why the crisis will push up Internet use).

The question now becomes how brands and companies want to take advantage of this. What posture will companies take to reach out to the consumer who is decidedly cautious, if not nervous about his or her future? The company that speaks to me in a way that makes sense is a good starting point. For example, if a company (ex Harrods) checks out my dopplr and see that I am going to travel to London on such and such a date, then drops me a pertinent offer for that date, would that not be a great idea? The chances are that I would be more than willing to view their mail (if they only they could make their creative a little more classy, too).

CRM Graphic Description

There has been much written about CRM (for basics, see marketingteacher.com), as in Customer Relationship Management. But, except for a couple of rare exceptions, I as a consumer have not been “feeling the love” from any particular brand or companies. It is not like I am not present on the Internet, or do not own any loyalty cards, or do not shop frequently at certain stores. There is certainly plenty of data on me out there to mine. At this point, for most companies, the mining has been, at best, superficial. There are some companies who have cottoned on to the idea of email campaigns as a cheap way to bolster traffic — to the web site if not the store. But that’s about it. But, I am looking for more. Companies need to tap into the data (which I volunteer) and capture my attention by knowing more about who I am.

Once companies have mastered dynamic customer knowledge (i.e. created a way to keep an up to date database), the question will then become to what extent (quantity and quality) the brand is communicating with its customers? There is a real risk that a deluge of irrelevant email campaigns will completely shut down the effectiveness of the email channel — broadening the definition of spam, increasing people’s intolerance to emails and making them opt out systematically or just delete with increasing revulsion on reception. If the average rate of opening an email drops down below the 2% level — a barometer for so many formerly traditional media campaigns — you may end up pissing more customers off in the process. While companies are still saving on the postal cost and on the CO2 with emails, they will be shooting themselves in the foot if they overdo it.

There is a golden opportunity to use the ‘net as a marketing tool. There are two important points. First, don’t abuse the opportunity out of laziness. Pouring out unpersonalized, non-customized emails is not the right answer; like cutting down rainforests, it is a very short-sighted approach. Second, mind the data (think “Mind the Gap” as they say in London’s tube stations). What is needed is to craft meaningful messages (in line with the brand’s values), with a customization that reflects some of the unique elements of the receiver.

Customize with Ease CRM

This all leads me to the main point: Brands endeavouring on CRM programs need to reflect carefully to find their CRM VOICE. There are three core ingredients to creating a CRM Voice. (1) A CRM Voice first means being getting in touch with the brand’s DNA, its core values. How is each communication refurbishing the identity of the brand and reinforcing the customer’s affinity with the brand. (2) It means knowing how to create messages that are relevant to the brand and to the receiving client. Does the brand have an interest in me? Does it know me (without the overtones of Big Brother). Does it know how to surprise me? To wow me? (3) Finally, it means getting the frequency right, knowing how often that person needs or wants to be contacted — including all the different channels of communication (TV included). A well-adapted, customized message becomes part of a well-oiled service.

LoveMarks Graph

In summary, brands need to find their CRM Voice: a Customized Real Message that is aligned with the brand’s core values. Brands that are high in love (lovemarks *****) and respect have a potentially greater starting point. But, every customer is looking for meaning and, in today’s difficult economic times, they will be more than likely spending more time online. I will be keen to see which brands or companies come through this vortex smelling like roses — for the times they are a changing, and I believe a paradigm shift is well underway. Which companies are going to capitalize intelligently on the accelerated shift in time on online that is bound to accompany this worldwide crisis? If you do what you always did, you may no longer get what you always got.

Podcasts and Videocasts – New reasons to walk to work

Despite the sleek look & feel, I know that the Apple iPhone is still not perfect for my needs, so I have resisted the temptation thus far. Instead, I am content to max out my iPod. Although the agenda and contacts are weak applications in the Apple mobile platforms, I now have all my family videos and photos uploaded. And, thanks to the ongoing developments on iTunes, I have found ample pleasure by mining the available uploadable [mostly free] content, including the album covers, television rebroadcasts and podcasts.

If you have never done it, do go visit the podcast section of iTunes. The number of new podcasts being created is soaring (see graphic below). To those of you creating podcasts, keep at it! The choice ranges from newscasts to business to entertain to education to inspiration. And there are many special interests too. The development of the iTunes U section is absolutely fantastic: mobile learning with support systems to help educational institutions to learn how to do it (see this film for more understanding). I am currently subscribed to some 30 podcasts to which, of course, I cannot listen every day; but the repertoire provides great flexibility.

When do I listen to these podcasts? Walking to and from work, which takes me about 35 minutes to do the 2.8 kilometres. This is the novelty for me: like books on tape, podcasts are great for walking. At any one time, I can choose the podcast according to my mood, need or available time — and, of course, sometimes, I just listen to music. Unlike the commute in the metro which means many disjointed moments walking to the station, getting in the train for an all-too-short ride and then walking on to the office, I have an uninterrupted 35 minutes to myself when I commute by foot.

Walking to/from work with the iPod playing podcasts is a singularly great way to begin and end the day. Here are SIX substantial reasons why I strongly recommend it:

1. It is exercise in the open air (granted there is the pollution of cars, so I should theoretically get a mask to make it a healthier walk).
2. A chance to look up at the Parisian architecture rather than being cooped up all day.
3. It’s more ecological than driving or even taking the train — thereby reducing my CO2 footprint (which isn’t very good considering the flights all year).
4. It’s cheaper (than either the metro or car). We could all save a dime these days.
5. Considering the time spent circling to find a parking space, it is also oftentimes just as fast as driving. Moreover, by leaving my car at the underground parking lot at work, I avoid the unnecessary risk of leaving my car exposed for pigeon doodoo, or potential parking tickets.
6. And, the coup de grace is that I get to listen to the podcast with great attention. This latter point is critical for me (and I would argue for leading business managers) because, with the selection of podcasts now available, you can truly get new content to help drive your business or team.

For business leaders, there is a great selection of podcasts available. I have a few favourites that I would like to share with you (with links directly to iTunes):

o HARVARD Business Ideacast — This is a videocast.
o INSEAD Knowledgecast — Thoughtful videocast interviews with INSEAD professors and business people on a wide variety of subject — although this isn’t updated as regularly. You can get more content here in these INSEAD audiocasts.
o Go Green — Tips to go green and there’s also GreenTV, in partnership with UNEP and GreenPeace
o NPR’s This I believe — 500 words from someone that believes strongly in something
o Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixels of Separation for those wanting good web 2.0-oriented marketing and communications analysis and ideas.
o And finally, Robin Sharma’s inspirational podcasts

Do let me know if you have any other favourites you would like to share. Otherwise, get out your walking shoes and slide in to your next podcast.

Worldmapper – The world through different filters

Here is a great site for people with a global mindset: Worldmapper — a wonderful way to review the the worldwide situation… The site features maps of the world distorted according to the criteria. In their own words, “Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, using equal area cartograms where territories are re-sized on each map according to a particular variable.”

As of today, the website contains 366 maps, with associated information and a PDF file, covering 99+% of the world’s population, and drawing on information from 200 territories. Much of the data is admittedly old or estimated. Anyway, you’ll get the picture.

Below is the world map according to population.

Worldmapper

Among the 366 maps, I pull out a couple of pertinent ones for me:

The World’s Ecological Footprint – As we know, the United States, China and India have the largest ecological footprints — but it’s the per person CO2 footprint (i.e. combined with the map above) that makes it scary for the US.

Tertiary education – with the highest percentage of the student-aged population enrolled being “in Finland. Finland is 3.6 times the world average, with 140 times the chance of a tertiary education than in Mozambique.”

Hazardous Waste – “The three biggest producers are the Russian Federation, United States and Uzbekistan.” And Russia seems to have a big lead in this category.

Books published – A major European bubble, albeit with old data (1999). The most new titles produced in that year were in the United Kingdom, China and Germany.

Gender Empowerment – which points out that women are never at parity with men… even in Rwanda where there are now more women in government than men.

Personal Computers 2002 – Even if this is light years out of date, this PC representation of the world is my favourite esthetically speaking! A kind of Rorschach test too.

For more fun, check out the Worldmapper index here.

Eco-Town & Housing Project in England

Eco-Towns in England – Green or Greenwashing?

The English have embarked on a plan to create up 10 eco-towns (by 2020) selected from an original list of 57 locations (including Imery’s China Clay, Ford, Rushcliffe, Middle Quinton, Pennbury, Manby and Strubby…and many other unheard of places) dotted around the country. The list is now down to a shortlist of 15 towns from which ten would be chosen to start the program. The new towns, which would be the first new towns created in England since the 1960s as part of an effort to provide new housing developments (5,000-20,000 homes per site), are intended to be zero-carbon, water neutral and car-curbing areas. Of course, 10×20,000 is a drop in the ocean compared to the government’s stated need of 3 million new homes by 2020 (from Caroline Flint, Housing Minister). There are 700,000 people currenty stuck on waiting lists for affordable housing in England. The Guardian published this rather complete article on the subject of eco-towns back in April 2008 when the shortlist was announced.

The idea is to make a living standard bearer to measure, benchmark and promote the possible eco-savings one can make in daily life. The plan calls for having at least 50 dwellings per hectare (2.5 acres) on average (100 in the centre of the town). The debate about the measurements, however, is still raging. See here in the Guardian newspaper’s article “Eco town dwellers may be monitored for green habits” (Sept 26 2008). The amount of monitoring of the eco-town dwellers is up for grabs. If you are going to have eco-towns, it makes consummate sense to have the towns be avant-garde in their means, to help mastermind innovation and, at the same time, help improve living standards (i.e. amenities, choice…) in such a CO2-reduced environment. But, considering that the existing households in England create 25% of the country’s CO2 output, there is still room to work on the existing infrastructure it would seem.

Opposition to the eco-town projects is, meanwhile, rife around the country. Housing Minister Flint’s own constituency (“Rossington”) has recently been protesting (see here Times article). Tim Henman’s father is waging a campaign against the potential invasion of 20,000 people into his local community. People are up in arms about the loss of greener pastures and living spaces in favour of urban sprawl. Others, such as Marina Pacheco, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, wrote on Open House at the Independent, criticizing the projects as something closer to greenwashing, with too much encroachment on the greenfields.

One has to assume the residents of the eco-towns will be pure bred eco-friendly people. That said, as the new generation comes in, the town will have to create a sufficiently free system to encourage the youth – who did not originally choose this type of community or existence – to adhere to the principles. All the commerce will also have to be at the forefront of sustainable development initiatives, with a high mix of locally produced goods. It is worth noting that consumer goods account for 14% of an individual’s ecological footprint.

It will be interesting to see how this plan comes to fruition. Watch this space (assuming my blog is around in 2020!). What do you think of the eco-towns?

Hand dryer versus paper towels?

Is an electric hand dryer truly more environmentally friendly than paper towels?

Have you ever found yourself using a hand dryer for what seems like a protracted amount of time and thinking: this surely isn’t much more environmentally friendly than drying with paper towels?

Hand Dryers are Great!The thought has crossed my mind on numerous occasions. First, when you come across an Cotton Towel dryer on a rollelectric dryer machine that was created several decades ago, the chances are that it was designed for another reason other than greenliness: for example, as a cleaner alternative to the revolving cotton towel (Remember those? See left for example). Consequently, it may indeed be extremely inefficient and, effectively, less environmentally friendly than paper towels.

Secondly, there are many machines that seem to blow when any person passes by or, worse yet, keep on blowing for what seems like an interminable amount of time after your hands have left the sensor area. Sensor hell. Same goes for some faucet sensors. (Read here for a prior post on the troubles at CDG Roissy airport).

enMotion Hand Towel DispenserAnd then, there is the technology on the side of paper towels: rounded rolls (vs folded sheets), functioning sensors (for dispatching just one sheet at a time, eg Lotus EnMotion see left), recycled & unbleached paper… Too bad that these paper towels never get recycled.

Clearly, there are new electric hand dryer machines, replete with well regulated sensors, efficient dryer systems, etc (for example, the 1400W Xlerator). But, the equation is impossible to calculate in absolute terms — the answer depends on the local source of electricity (coal or other), the comparative technologies, etc.

Tree Hugger

The best site I found was from the ever reliable TreeHugger, where they state that the average CO2 consumption of an electric hand dryer is 1.6 tonnes over a 5 year lifespan, while for the paper towels, it is 4.6 tonnes over the same period. I extract below from the TreeHugger article the passage from the Life Cycle Analysis (30-page report) done by Environmental Resource Management. I think it is quite revealing and clear. Note the rendering of the CO2 consumption in car mileage…

Hand Dryer vs Paper Towel Table 3.1

Blast it!

“From [the] Table 3.1 it can be seen that a drier, over its life time, will result in a global warming burden of 1.6 tonnes of CO2. This is an equivalent burden to that associated with a car traveling 5 100 km. Over the same period, the use of paper towels would result in an average CO2 burden of 4.6 tonnes. This is an equivalent burden to that associated with a car traveling 14 500 km. From Table 3.1 it can be seen that a drier over its life time will result in an acidification burden of 10.2 kg of SO2. This is an equivalent burden to that associated with a car traveling 5000 km. Over the same period, the use of paper towels would result in a average burden of 13.8 kg of SO2. This is an equivalent burden to that associated with a car traveling 6700 km.”

Jury still out

Another good article comes from slate.com: Electric Hand Dryers versus Paper Towels (June 2008). A study published in Nov 2007 by the Climate Conservancy establishes the edge of the electric dryer over 2-towel-per-usage… but, what of the one-towel dry? And the jury is still not out. As Rebecca Clarren of salon.com, which commissioned the Climate Conservancy study, cites a 1998 study by Britain’s University of Westminster at the end of its post, which found that the electric dryer doesn’t do well on the bacteria killing front, actually increasing bacteria by 255% — whereas paper wipes off 58% of the bacteria. And, the Green Guru (in a July 2008 post) has a mixed review tending to settle on the hands being dried on the trousers…

A whole other area of improvement would be in the soap dispenser. Soaps that actually cleanse and rinse quickly would be a good start. So many times, it seems the soap dispenser itself is of poor quality with huge amounts of wastage (if there is actually still soap in the dispenser). I happened upon a DEB Purmouss system that dispenses mousse soap (quick application) using a pouch. And the soap appeared to rinse very quickly (hard water?). A good example to follow, it seemed to me.

All in all, the chances are that electric hand dryers are likely to be the better choice — especially if you go for the “quickie” blow dry and then air dry the rest or wipe up and down on your inside shirt (which is likely to be a little cleaner than the one on the outside!). On balance, one should probably go for the electric hand dryer solution as, if NOTHING ELSE, it tends to remind people of the need for environmental friendliness and, in the vast majority of cases, is probably less consuming.

Meanwhile, on another note regarding public bathroom etiquette: Among other areas of improvement, it would also be good if people would automatically actually wash their hands after having been to the toilet… It is also mind boggling to see people leave the washroom without having washed their hands at all (some would argue that washing before hand is the more appropriate thing to do, and I might even agree if you know where your hands have been). The other thing that I find rather shocking in terms of washroom behaviour is when a man don’t use an available urinal (for a #1) — typically the same person will not lift the toilet seat and, final insult, will kick the protruding flush lever rather than deign to touch it (fear of infection). The resulting flush is obviously unnecessarily ample.

How green are you? An ecometer concept…

Green Eco MeterAs the ecological movement goes mainstream, it occurred to me that we might benefit from a protocol to establish how much each individual is eco-friendly. Not that I am wanting to flush out the hypocritical bobos or gauche caviar‘ profiles…but it could be as much a social media application (say on Facebook) as well an educational tool. I harken back to my pre-geek era when I took a geek test the first time. I achieved a miserly 39% geek status. Six months later, my score reached 64%. And part of the reason was that I had been made aware of my ungeeky weaknesses. Fortunately, I am on the mend (hoping to hit 80% soon).

Back to ecology. What about creating a way to measure “how green are you?”, a sort ofEcology Green World Test eco-meter. The objective of the meter would be establish how much you have adopted ecological gestures in your daily life. If I knew how to embed a grease monkey survey, I would do it. That may be my next project. But, as it turns out, this is not by any means the first time someone has had such a thought (see below for the multiple options).

Anyway, questions for the MD Eco-Meter would be along the following lines (gradient of answers, i.e. on a scale of 1-5):

How much do you believe in global warming?

How much do you believe in the need to be ecologically friendly?

How keen are you to save a couple of dollars/euros every day?

How well do you know the different ecological labels? (AB, BDIH, Cosmébio, OKO Test, Eco-label, Blue Flag, USDA Organic, Certified Organic Farming, etc.) (See Bio labels list courtesy of Earth Conservation)

How often do integrate eco-friendliness into your purchasing habits?

Do you drive a car? If so, is it diesel?

How often do you take public transportation or walk rather than taking the car?

Do you always turn off the lights when vacating a room?

Do you use a washing machine with “small load” capacity?

Do you always fill the dish washer to the max?

Do you buy detergents or other household items according to an eco-label?

Do you shower rapidly (as opposed to taking a bath)?

As usual, though, as I mentioned above, this is not an original thought. I have trawled the net and found a wonderful first step:

Take the Pachamama “How Green Are You?” Test. I must admit to my poor 50% score at this point (a case of transparency).

Here is a more serious (longer) survey at GreenScore. From the UK as you might expect. I managed to get 56% (average is 61%). Watch out for duplicate questions that serve to confuse… But the questions are enough to get you thinking. Below are my exact scores per category and some suggestions as to how I can improve. Ecological suggestions.

Our ex-neighbourly Channel 4 in the UK covered the idea in a quickie survey (their green-o-meter is no longer available). The results show that 95% are at least doing something…

One for the kids mr. green here at National Geographic.

And another that measures your CO2 footprint. Visit the CO2 calculator.

Finally, thanks to this Keetsa Mattress blog, found out about the Planet Green Game.

The idea about marking a green score is to allow the [green] conversation to continue, not to judge one another. No one should be expected to live at 100% … at least not until we have enough choices. To some degree, of course, it is for us to push the local enterprises to take up the cause… Ask your merchants what they are doing… what are their expectations? Engage them in the conversation!

———————————————

Greenscore Scores for Minter:

Congratulations, Minter! Your overall GreenScore is 56% out of a possible 100%.
The average score of other participants is 61%.

Your energy score is 38% – the average is 2%
Why not try to improve your energy score further? To improve your score try clicking here
Your water score is 47% – the average is 3%
Why not try to improve your w
ater score further? To improve your score try clicking here
Your rubbish & shopping score is 46% – the average is 3%
Why not try to improve your rubbish & shopping score further? To improve your score try clicking here
Your transport score is 55% – the average is 3%
Why not try to improve your transport score further? For ideas, try clicking here

Wind turbines ahoy

With the number of wind turbines worldwide projected to hit a capacity of 90,000 megawatts/MW (or 90 gigawatts/GW) of electricity, I am proud to say that I have at last come right up close to the base of one of these (at least) 30 metre tall constructions. On our family trip, we took a little detour near Tours, to inspect for ourselves the famous “noise level.” And the scoreboard says: (a) they make next to no noise [just a very reasonable and lovely whirring], and (b) are absolutely stunning constructions. Much like the beauty of a jet plane which, as many as I may have flown in, remain beautiful testaments to human ingenuity. As the clouds passed by above the blades, I got the feeling that I was being transported in some magic machine. Compared to the above-land electrical lines (monstrous eye sore) that kill far more birds than the wind turbines (see ourecoblog for stats on bird deaths, including an astonishing 100 million birds killed by the household cat), I am a convert for the wind turbine, or as the French more glamourously call it, “l’éolien.”

Unfortunately, the 90GW capacity–brought by what I estimate to be about 60,000 turbines–accounts for just 1% of the world’s production of electricity. Per wikipedia, “the average output of one megawatt of wind power is equivalent to the average consumption of about 160 American households.” Of note, Germany has more than 21k GW capacity (supplying 7% of its needs), and both Spain and the US have nearly 13k GW each, enough for approx 3 million average US households. Meanwhile, Denmark is the pioneer country providing more than 3GW, or 18% of its needs. Not all the turbines need be on land (see right courtesy of another Town and City Gardens site). China is coming along as well, with 3GW of supply… (Voir ici pour des informations pour la France sur leur parc d’éoliens qui produisent 1.3GW actuellement).

This Greenpeace site gives some good Q&A on the topic. The one Q I like the most: “do tourists hate wind farms?” If the Dial family is any example, it actually attracted us. On the TGV train, as I whizzed back up from Bordeaux today, I kept marvelling at the site of the wind farms. And, with another informative site Catamount Energy, I thought I could put perspective on the benefits of the wind turbines:

“Coal, the most polluting fuel and the largest source of the leading greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), is currently used to generate more than half of all of the electricity (52%) used in the U.S. Other sources of electricity are: natural gas (15%), oil (4%), nuclear (19%), and hydropower (9%).

Development of 10% of the wind potential in the 10 windiest U.S. states would provide more than enough energy to displace emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants and eliminate the nation’s major source of acid rain; reduce total U.S. emissions of CO2 by almost a third and world emissions of CO2 by 4%.

The growth projections, per the World Wind Energy Association, are for more than 20% more per year for the next several years (through 2010). I think that’s great. All in favour, say ay.