Let’s look at facts, not hot air, about wind power

28/05/2010 at 6:43 am Leave a comment

Author: Dot Sulock

The on-again off-again nature of electricity from wind is a very solvable problem, contrary to the claims of the very misinformed opinion piece titled “Wind power has appeal, but it’s foiled by facts,” (AC-T, May 19).

The U.S. Department of Energy released a report on May 21, 2010 saying that if the western U.S. power grid included 27 percent renewable power, “it would lower carbon emissions by 25 to 45 percent. It would also decrease fuel and emissions costs by 40 percent.” The report said that up to 30 percent wind power would be easy to handle. The link to that report is the first link below.

A National Renewable Energy Lab spokesperson said, “If key changes can be made to standard operating procedures, our research shows that large amounts of wind and solar can be incorporated onto the grid. When you coordinate the operations between utilities across a large geographic area, you decrease the effect of the variability of wind and solar energy sources, mitigating the unpredictability of Mother Nature.” So much for the alleged intermittency problem.

Wind energy is very cost competitive also. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a well-respected organization with a long illustrious history, provides lots of information about wind power on their website, second link, and says “The cost of electricity from the wind has dropped from about 25 cents/kWh in 1981 to averaging near 4 cents/kWh in 2008.” Wind and geothermal are the cheapest of the clean energies.

So if intermittency isn’t a problem and cost isn’t a problem, what about birds? Are bird deaths a problem?

The third given link will take you to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report on migratory bird deaths. It is only two pages long and really interesting. The agency says that every year 97 million-796 million birds die from flying into buildings, 4 million-5 million (or maybe 40 million – 50 million) from flying into communication towers, possibly 174 million die from electric wires, maybe 60 million are killed by cars, and “wind turbine rotors kill an estimated 33,000 annually.” Incidentally, the service also says that 39 million birds are killed annually by cats in the state of Wisconsin alone.

So, electricity from wind is natural and renewable. Fuel costs are zero. Turbines could be made by unemployed autoworkers. Wind power could revitalize the U.S. industrial base and restore our international industrial competitiveness. Wind power is good for the air and climate. It is inexpensive. Intermittency and bird deaths are not serious problems.

Another good thing about wind power is that it revitalizes local economies and can help free us from dependency on foreign oil. To see how, visit Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens’ website about his “Pickens Plan” and watch his very persuasive videos. He would like wind power to replace natural gas for generating electricity. Natural gas, which we have a lot of in the U.S., would be used for truck fuel, saving the $1 billion a day the US spends on imported oil, money that might trickle down to hostile wallets.

Or, if you want to think local, go to the last link below, from Appalachian State University, titled “Why Wind Power for North Carolina?” In that study, the ASU folks tell us “The Wisconsin Energy Bureau estimates that wind projects create three times as many jobs as the same level of spending on fossil fuels. Conversely, Portland General Electric estimates that a 240 MW natural gas plant drains $28 million-$55 million out of the regional economy annually for fuel imports.” Visit the article. They give many other happy reasons for supporting wind power in North Carolina.

Wind power is clean, natural, sustainable, safe, affordable, good for our health, good for the air, good for jobs, and good for the U.S., preserving our freedom. Those are the facts.

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Entry filed under: Renewable Energy.

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