Monday, May 31, 2010

Wind Power

Photo by Lowell Amrine

I used to be a fan of wind power. We were told that a new generation of wind turbines were reliable and efficient. At times, one can see a certain beauty in the rotating turbines of wind farms.

However, my opinion changed when I began researching wind energy during my global warming project. To make a long story short, the current generation of wind turbines are still very inefficient and prone to breaking down. Europe has suffered a number of blackouts and brownouts due to the reliability problem. The unreliability is so great that electric utilities still have to run their generators when they are using wind power in case the wind ceases or a wind turbine shuts down. The generators are run "off-line" but they are still consuming energy (rather than producing it). When one considers the energy needed to run the generators, there is little net power being produced by the turbines.

The photo above was posted at Trainorders.com showing a Union Pacific stack train passing the wind farm near Palm Springs and the thought occurred to me: People object to oil wells and oil platforms because they "ruin the view." The wind towers are at least as bad. And, unlike oil, which we know is an energy-dense substance with real value, the wind farms may be rusting eyesores ten years from now if the heavy government subsidies for wind power cease.

I strongly believe we need much more nuclear and more solar. Wind power is not ready for prime time.

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