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Powering the Dream by Alexis Madrigal

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chapter 24
The Five-Cent Turbine and the Siren Call of the Breakthrough
THE 33M-VS was not just another wind turbine; it was the answer to the problem of fossil fuels and it was the would-be foundation of the next great American technology company.
Designed between 1989 and 1993 by Kenetech, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, along with a consortium of electric utilities, it was touted as a technological breakthrough. The “marriage of aerospace and microelectronics” would finally make the electricity produced by capturing the flow of air across the earth as cheap as that produced by burning rocks, liquids, or gas.1
On paper, the 33M-VS was capable of making electrical power for five cents per kilowatt-hour. Five cents wasn’t just cheap: ...

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