BRANDON OWENS is an energy economist and author with expertise in clean energy, corporate strategy, digital technologies, and data and analytics. A 25-year energy industry veteran, his research has been published in leading energy industry journals and periodicals. Mr. Owens has provided energy technology advice to governments, research organizations, energy consultancies, and global corporations. He is currently the Director of Global Market Development for GE Power Digital. Mr. Owens holds an MS degree in Mineral Economics from the Colorado School of Mines and a BA degree in Mathematics from the University of Colorado.
What is your background?
I’ve been in the energy business for 25 years. I started my career as an intern at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 1994, where I became well-versed in wind power and other renewable energy technologies. I’ve spent the balance of my career learning about non-renewable energy technologies and the rest of the power system. I’ve worked in research, consulting, and corporate environments along the way, so I’ve seen many things from different perspectives. I love learning and I like to see the big picture, so I view my energy career as an educational journey.
What are the most profound changes you have seen in your field across your career?
There’s been a complete transformation on the role of renewable energy technologies in the global power system. Renewables were a niche, government-funded group of technologies in the 1990s when I started my career. They’ve since moved into the mainstream and they account for an increasing share of global electricity generation. This has created both opportunities and challenges.
What motivated you to write The Wind Power Story?
Initially, I was just curious about the history of wind power. Where did this technology come from? How long has it been under development? Basically, how did we get here? I wanted to answer those sorts of questions. As I dug deeper, I realized that much of the history of wind power has not been documented and I felt like I could make a contribution by discussing all of the key steps that took us from initial development in the late nineteenth century to the current wind power surge in the twenty-first century.
Who is the primary audience for The Wind Power Story?
It’s very broad. I want to be able to provide the educated public with enough background on wind power technologies, markets, and policies to understand today’s wind power environment. There’s a lot of misinformation out that, I see this as an opportunity to set the record straight. In the book, I dive into some of the technology details—but the focus is really on covering the entire landscape while providing the necessary level of detail to get the job done along the way.
What are the key challenges this audience faces?
For those who are not familiar with energy technologies, the challenge is getting up to speed on some of the technical elements of how technologies work and how they plug into power markets. For those with some technical background on energy technologies, the challenge is seeing the bigger picture here because wind power really fits into the broader context of energy markets and policies.
How does your book solve this need/challenge?
It’s a comprehensive discussion of all those elements: wind power technologies, markets, and policies. I tried to provide introductory-level discussions of some of the more complex elements
What have been the biggest rewards?
Feeling like I have been able to encapsulate some of the knowledge that I’ve learned in my career and share it with others. This book needed to be written because there was a gap in the available materials on wind power history, I am thrilled that I have been able to help fill that gap. I think research and writing is like trying to put the pieces of a big puzzle together—and I’m proud that I was able to finish the puzzle and share it with the rest of the world.
What unique features do you think make the book stand out in the market?
You can’t find a comprehensive history of wind power anywhere except in this one book. There are many fragments out there, but if you want to understand the whole story, this book is the only option. The book provides an entry opportunity for those who want to understand the details of wind power and get up-to-speed quickly. There’s a lot of information in this one book.
What current projects are you working on?
I’ve got a couple of additional writing projects on the horizon. One area where I’m interested, and I think there is a need for education, is the area of digital energy technologies and how software is now being used to augment energy technologies and markets and how this digital transformation is creating new challenges and opportunities in the process. There’s no shortage of interesting topics out there and a strong need to help bring clarity to a dynamic energy landscape.
What problems are you trying to solve?
I am trying to fill the knowledge gap around wind power. There’s a lot of misinformation out there now and I want to help educate the public on the real cost and benefits of wind power technologies.
Can you describe wind power technology as if I knew nothing about it or the market?
If you no nothing about wind power technologies or markets, this is the exact book for you. It was written with you in mind. It’s the single book available to get readers up-to-speed on wind power technologies, markets, and policies without any perquisite knowledge in these areas.
There have been some reports in the news that wind power actually harms the environment. What is your opinion on this?
All energy technologies have some environmental footprint. The challenge is to balance the environment with economics and the need for reliability. I have always believed in a portfolio approach, but I also feel strongly that climate change is the greatest challenge facing humankind right now and that wind power is one of the most important solutions in this arena.
Where can we find you online?
My LinkedIn profile is comprehensive and I love to accept new connections, so you can find me there. My address is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/owensbrandon/