Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wind power is a Boone-doggle

In a follow-up to my post on the machinations of T. Boone Pickens (a post which was featured in last Sunday's Sacramento Bee, thank you very much), I wanted to highlight the big problems with another of Pickens' solutions to our energy crisis. His primary argument is that we should be using more natural gas (in which case, he would make Billion$), but he also says in his saturation ad campaign that we should be using more wind power as well.

Frankly, I'm surprised that the enviro-wacko crowd so enthusiastically pushes wind power as an energy alternative. Aside from the bird massacres that they cause, have you ever seen what a wind farm looks like? Talk about visual blight; they're atrocious. There is a gigantic wind farm in Altamont Pass, which is one of the commuter freeway corridors that connects San Francisco and the East Bay to the Central Valley. The following image is but one small section of the entire wind farm:

Each of those turbines is hundreds of feet tall, and there are close to 5,000 of them spread across Altamont Pass. In order for turbines like these to replace all the electricity currently being produced by coal-fired power plants, you would need a wind farm like this one that would be the size of... well, let's let someone else explain this, along with some other problems with expansion of the use of wind power. In an article on the subject, Paul Driessen of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) has this to say:
...Wind power is intermittent, unreliable and expensive (even with subsidies). Many modern turbines are 400 feet tall and carry 130-foot, 7-ton, bird-slicing blades. They operate at only 20 percent 30 percent of rated efficiency - compared to 85 percent for coal, gas and nuclear plants - and provide little power during summer daytime hours, when air-conditioning demand is highest, but winds are at low ebb.

Using wind to replace all gas-fired power plants would require over 300,000 1.5-megawatt turbines, covering Midwestern "wind belt" agricultural and wildlife acreage equivalent to South Carolina.

Building and installing these turbines requires 5 to 10 times more steel and concrete than is needed to build nuclear plants to generate the same electricity more reliably, says Berkeley engineer Per Peterson. Add in steel and cement needed to build transmission lines from distant wind farms to urban consumers, and the costs multiply.

Wind thus means more quarries, mines, cement plants and steel mills to supply those materials. But greens oppose such facilities. So the Pickens proposal could mean letting existing power plants rust, and importing steel and cement, instead of oil....
So, your choice is a wind farm that would fill up the real estate of South Carolina, or an oil-drilling area in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) that would fill up the real estate of Dulles International Airport. Take your pick.

Good Day to You, Sir

1 comment:

nebraska girl said...

How dare you bring reality into this discussion! If we really wanted solutions that would work, we'd be protesting the congressional vacation.


This is a very good look at reality. It is very much like the fact that in 2007 Nebraska alone used 5 trillion gallons of water to irrigate corn...much of which went to ethanol. Why do we ignore all the bad aspects of something that is "renewable"?