August 24, 2011

10 short reasons to not be excited about wind power

In answer to a recent speech by Lester Brown, as reported in National Geographic's Energy Blog, a correspondent sends these 10 succinct reasons why wind power is undesirable:

1. It can not meaningfully replace more reliable sources, currently fueled by hydro, fossil fuels, or nuclear. Because wind is intermittent, highly variable, and nondispatchable, the rest of the grid must continue to operate as if it is not there. Large-scale batteries are very far from practicality and would provide only short-term mitigation of variability.

2. It can not meaningfully reduce carbon emissions. In addition to the reasons in (1), wind forces the grid to operate less efficiently, like switching from highway to city driving.

3. It requires huge machines spread over huge areas. Even "good" wind is a diffuse resource to capture.

4. It subjects rural and wild land to industrial development. For the reasons in (3), that's where the space is, and besides the turbines themselves, heavy-duty roads, transfer stations, and high-voltage transmission lines are needed.

5. It destroys, degrades, and fragments wildlife habitat. Again, This is for the reasons in (3) and (4).

6. It is a particular threat to migratory birds, raptors, and bats. These animals already use the wind, and the giant turbine blades are a direct physical danger or force the animals to detour or go elsewhere.

7. Its giant turbine blades create a disturbing thumping or deep swishing noise as they pass through different layers of air. The noises from large wind turbines make many people sick, and other animals are likely affected similarly.

8. It requires blasting on mountain ridges to create level platforms of 2-3 acres or more and wide slow-turning roads.

9. It adversely affects water headlands and runoff when built on mountain ridges. This is not only by the construction (blasting and compacting) of the roads and platforms, but also by the clearance of vegetation for them, as well as for the transfer stations and transmission lines.

10. It's ugly. Industrial wind turbines are now typically well over 400 feet tall and easily dominate the landscape, especially when the blades are turning. And a single facility consists of a lot more than 1, from dozens on mountain ridges to hundreds in the prairies, spread over miles.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism