“Don’t mess with Texas!” This official Motto of the Lone Star State is less about belligerence and more directness and outcome. The rumors about the US are undoubtably true - they don’t do things by halves here, especially in Texas. It’s no coincidence that our wind farm in Roscoe was the world’s largest when it was built in 2008. However, today, it’s been overtaken by a Chinese wind park. However, with more than 600 wind turbines, this Texan park is definitely a champion in comparison to any wind farm in the EU.
It was not only our interest which was piqued by the sheer size of the park, our crew of Instagrammer who joined us were also impressed. So, together with our partner, visumate, we jetted off to Austin, the capital of Texas, with our four Instagramers Jasmin, Max, Konrad und Helin.
Picture & Cover photo: Konrad Langer
Pictures: Konrad Langer
Managers, Cotton & Hundreds of Turbines
Longhorns, oil rigs & monster trucks; these are just some of the stereotypes associated with Texas. In some parts of the state, they still play a big role – but not so much in Austin anymore. The city itself, known throughout the US for sustainable concepts, was our first stop. It’s no coincidence that one of E.ON’s three US offices is located in Austin. We started off the trip with an e-bike tour and the brand new (sustainably built) city library. This gave us an idea of what the US standards are to make a ‘greener’ city, like Austin.
On the night before we headed out to Roscoe, we met with the E.ON managers who are responsible for the topic of renewable energy: Board member, Leo Birnbaum, Renewables boss, Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath and Silvia Ortin Rios, head of Offshore Wind in the U.S. The Instagrammers were able to ask our managers all about our renewable activities during a fire-side chat.
In the early hours of the morning, we embarked on a long journey to Roscoe, a small town just past Sweetwater, where the world-famous Rattlesnake Roundup takes place every year. With each mile we drove away from Austin, the amount of cowboy hats seemed to grow. Our colleague, Jason Grizzle, who met us in Roscoe, sporting the classic cowboy hat (which was later swapped for a safety helmet), led us through the park. It’s hard to comprehend the size of the park, but it isn’t the only one in Roscoe, as more than 1,200 wind turbines are located around the small town. There are wind turbines as far as the eye can see! Our wind farm generates so much energy that it can be used to supply 230,000 households with electricity.
The fields are a treat for the eyes, the cotton that grows in the fields below the turbines gives you the impression that you're standing on fields of snow, all while you’re sweating from the Texas heat! The white blanket of cotton that covers this field is not the only one of its kind, as these cotton fields are found everywhere in the north of Texas! It’s a clear win-win for the locals of the region; many of them work as service technicians, and our colleague Josh is a prime example! He even let me drive his pick-up truck for a while! He’s from Sweetwater and has a wife and two young children, whom are just as happy he found a job in the region. Then, there's nowhere he'd rather be than in Texas, with the laid back lifestyle, the affordable houses, nature & lots of sunshine. He even has friends who own land with wind turbines - which provides a nice, extra bit of income.
Renewables need storage – like Texas Waves
Roscoe is not just important to E.ON because of the wind farms – the technology for large storage batteries are also in use here, which are key to the success of the energy transition. Unfortunately, renewable energy cannot be delivered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, these clever machines can store the energy to be used in times of need, for example, when there is no wind or at night. Efficient storage technologies are the key to success. Roscoe already has a state-of-the-art, fully-commissioned facility in operation: the Texas Waves project, which proved to be popular with the Instagramers. To the naked eye, they’re not the prettiest things, but we were able to take a look into the heart of the system – which contains 850 high-performance lithium-ion batteries.
The Instagramers were impressed by our long day at Roscoe - from E.ON's overall efforts and capabilities in wind energy, as well as the vast scale of our wind farm in Roscoe, beautifully nestled in huge cotton fields. When the evening came we were able to take night pictures and sent Max's drone up to the heavens.
Picture: Max Leitner
Picture: Max Leitner
For Texas itself, structural changes in the energy industry are particularly exciting and contrasting. Even in today’s race of energy, fossil fuels still play a major role – however, renewables are starting to quickly catch up. This is already evident in our projects, Roscoe, Bruenings Breeze & Texas Waves. The Americans are pragmatic and ideologically free; it's all about business. And I wish we were as relaxed and laid back as the Texans, not just in energy politics, but also with other sacred cows. Just before I left, I scratched the car door of Josh's pick-up against the curb, I held my breath waiting for his reaction but he only laughed. This car is a workhorse, that's what they're built for!
What are influencers?
Influencers have become a form of 'communication' on social media channels. In the past, they were called 'Multipliers, Opinion Makers or Trend Setters'. Put simply, influencers are people who have great influence on their fans and followers. YouTube and Instagram have become the two most popular/suitable platforms for influencer marketing.
Today, there are two groups of influencers that stand out in society: celebrities of the like of the Kardashians and original 'trend setters' such as Casey Neistat. These influencer groups draw attention from specifically medium-sized businesses and microinfluencers.
International brands in particular are increasingly using the opportunity to convey their messages via Instagram. Instagramers + Texas = an intriguing duo. What did we gain from using Influencers? Well, they say you learn from the best, our own Instagram channel gained more followers during the trip! More importantly, after a short amount of time lively discussions developed between fans and followers on the Instagram channels, these involved mostly young adults - sustainability, green energy and mindfulness were just some of the topics in question.