When I was young, sitting in the back seat of my parents old Buick, I would occasionally dangle my arm out the window, and let the passing wind teach me the only things I ever learned about aerodynamics. You can’t do something like that without gaining an instant respect for air, considering how something completely invisible can still be incredibly powerful.

Today I know that the power of natural wind is really the power of the sun, the perpetual struggle of our atmosphere to balance out the sun’s uneven deposits. But inherent in that titanic wrestling match is, some would say, the most cost-effective solution to the world’s energy crisis.

The idea of using the wind to generate electricity has never been more popular because of its endless capacity and environmental friendliness. It has been estimated that the power of the wind, if fully captured, could supply the world’s energy needs many times over. Perhaps more importantly, it could do it cleanly, it could do it anywhere in the world, and it could do it without ever running out.

Never before has there been more of a movement, or more of an opportunity, to catch the wind. Although harnessing the wind for mechanical energy has been around for thousands of years, and was even used to generate electricity in the late 1800s in Europe, recent improvements have made it today’s fastest growing energy source, continuing to exceed even the most optimistic growth expectations. This is because the technology behind wind power has improved to the point that, in some locations, wind-generated electricity is now close in cost to conventional sources.

For an investor, there aren’t many publicly traded players in this field, but there are a few. One of the more interesting players is Axial Vector (OTC: AXVC), developer of a patent-pending axial flux generator providing a significant gain in generation efficiency. The company’s system can be retrofitted to existing turbines, providing substantially more power without adding more towers or turbines, and allowing use during low wind conditions. The bottom line is greater revenue and profitability. Axial recently announced a joint venture agreement with Constellation Capital Management, LLC that will have the exclusive right to market the company’s proprietary generators to the U.S. wind power industry.

Other publicly traded companies contributing to the industry include:

• Mass Megawatts Wind Power (OTCBB: MMGW) - Holder of patent rights for the MAT system of wind power generation, the company expects to compete favorably with new fossil fuel plants.

• Juhl Wind (OTCBB: JUHL) - Leader in community-based wind power development and management, Juhl works to bring wind farming to rural communities.

• GE (NYSE:GE) - The maker of more wind turbines than anyone in the world, GE’s installed capacity comprises more than 15,000 megawatts.

• Siemens (NYSE:SI) - Close to GE in wind turbines, Siemens recently announced the largest offshore wind turbine supply agreement in history for Northern Europe.

Today, almost every week brings with it a major new wind power project or development. Both GE and Siemens are having to ramp up production to meet demand for existing turbine designs, and Axial Vector is just now demonstrating its new axial flux technology. It’s a commitment these companies are willing to make, because they know that wind catching is finally here to stay.

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