- Electricity generated from wind power is a growing source of energy and plays an important role in addressing climate change.
- Companies like Bunge are actively seeking wind power options for their facilities to lower costs where feasible and to meet commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Farmers may also see financial benefits by developing wind turbines on their land.
Bunge’s Push for Renewable Energy
Chances are you have seen the towering, white wind turbines in lines across the countryside. Increasingly they are appearing on the horizon in states like Texas, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, generating income for farmers and sustainable energy for companies like Bunge.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council, roughly 60,000 of these massively tall turbines have been installed across the country with the ability to generate 107.4 gigawatts (GW). To put that in perspective, the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy estimates the power in one gigawatt could power about 300,000 homes.
Per the American Wind Energy Association, U.S. wind capacity increased by 166 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is a 10 percent average annual increase. This has been one of the primary drivers behind the growth and feasibility around wind energy generation. For the same time frame, global annual wind capacity was up 15 percent.
Wind turbines can convert the wind’s kinetic energy into electricity without any of the emissions that can come from other widely used power sources. The U.S. Department of Energy says new technologies are expanding wind turbine opportunities. While less than three percent of U.S. electricity was derived from wind energy in 2019, a 2015 study by the department forecasts that wind could provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.
The sustainable opportunities presented by wind energy have not gone unnoticed by Bunge. In fact, reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) through wind is one of the many ways Bunge is working to build and implement innovative activities and solutions that advance our global goals of reducing water, waste, emissions and energy in target amounts by 2026. We leave no stone unturned working from the ground up to weave sustainability into our overall system.
Wind turbines reduce the impact associated with conventional electricity generation. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the 2019 U.S. wind capacity avoided an estimated 189 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and reduced water use by about 103 billion gallons compared with conventional power plants.
The U.S. Department of Energy in that same 2015 study forecast if 35 percent of U.S. electricity is wind-generated by 2050, electric sector GHG emissions would be cut by 23 percent, which would cut 510 billion kilograms of CO2 emissions per year and lower water use 15 percent.
For the last four years, Bunge has been identifying the best ways to embrace renewable technology and put it to work in our facilities. Most recently, we added to our renewable energy portfolio by entering into a 10-year agreement with Direct Energy Renewable Services at our Fort Worth, Texas, site. Bunge is now consuming 100 percent renewable electricity powered by wind energy at this facility. Each year the Renewable Energy Certificates, RECs, will be retired in Bunge’s name.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, RECs represent the property rights to the environmental, social and other non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation. One REC is equal to one megawatt-hour of electricity generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy source like the wind. RECs track renewable energy generation.
In addition, we recently achieved 100 percent renewable electricity powered by wind at our major corn mill in Atchison, Kansas, and soybean processing plant in Emporia, Kansas. In 2019, we signed a long-term contract with Evergy for eight percent of their wind farm in Nemaha County, Kansas. The wind farm became fully operational in November 2020 and will help to transition about 60 million kilowatt hours of electricity from coal and natural gas to wind each year across the two large plants in Kansas. Also notable is our soybean processing plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which now gets more than 83 percent of its electricity from wind power.
We have seen early cost savings in the switch to renewable power and will keep close watch on increasing demand for wind energy to manage available supply. We are seeking and employing every renewable energy option we can to operate our plants across the globe. The goal is to operate with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
In addition to expanding wind power options, we are also looking at opportunities for solar in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, and will consider more options down the road.
As we do, farmers may see benefits. Annual lease payments can generate around $3,000 per megawatt of turbine capacity. The American Wind Energy Association estimates a 250-acre farm with income from wind leases at $55 an acre could generate annual income of $14,000.
As you can see, we are making big steps toward finding scalable solutions to fighting climate change through our increased use of renewable energy. Bunge is embracing new technologies and energy sources, to meet our energy needs and improve value for our customers. Bunge will continue to invest in and expand the use of wind and solar energy, as well as other sustainable alternatives, across our supply chains into the future.
To learn more about Bunge’s environmental goals, visit https://www.bunge.com/sustainability or contact your local Bunge representative for additional information.