March 18, 2005

Greenpeace lobbies for wind farms in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

No, they aren't, of course. That would be absurd -- an environmental group promoting the industrial development of wild places. Oh, wait, but they do. Just call it green and urgently necessary, and formerly inaccessible ridgelines and prairies are yours to exploit.

While I completely share Greenpeace's concerns and the goals of their "Clean Energy Now" campaign, they say that wind could supply 10% of the world's electricity by 2025. To supply 10% the world's use in 2001 (13,934 TW-h) would have required an average output of 159,064 MW, representing an installed wind capacity of 636,256 (25% capacity factor) to 795,320 (20% c.f.) MW, or 424,171-530,213 1.5-MW turbines. Greenpeace urges aggressive use of off-shore sites, which can use larger-capacity turbines and might initially show better capacity factors, but the number required is still outrageous. In 2025, projected electricity demand will require 1.75 times more than the numbers just calculated: 750,000-1,000,000 turbine towers to provide just 10% of our electricity.

Besides being so much and doing so little, it does nothing at all about other energy use besides that for generating electricity. Ten percent reduction in all energy use could more easily, more cheaply, and -- most significantly for environmentalists -- without adding more industry to our already so diminished landscapes be achieved by implementing simple conservation and efficiency measures.

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