September 12, 2006

Larger picture does not include industrial wind power

To the editor, Burlington (Vt.) Free Press:

Jan Blittersdorf, whose company counts on expanding development of industrial wind power, reminds us that we need a thoughtful and productive discussion of the issue ("Wind discussion must see larger picture," September 11). She then proceeds to shamelessly misrepresent the impacts of wind energy on the electricity generation of Denmark, Germany, and Spain.

It is one thing to say that wind turbines generate a certain percentage of a country's total. It is quite another to say that wind turbines displace that percentage of generation from or fuel use by other sources. Apparently, the latter can not be said about Denmark, Germany, and Spain, the world's leaders in wind energy. Those countries have lots of wind turbines, but none have been able to point to any actual benefits from them (except, of course, to those in the business).

The wind industry thus boasts of achieving a goal that means nothing to the larger picture that Blittersdorf reminds us to keep in mind. The turbines are built, but -- because of the intermittent, variable, and unpredictable nature of their production -- other fuels are still used as much as before. The wind turbines therefore do not reduce carbon dioxide or any other emissions.

There are other renewables that have actual promise. We shouldn't waste our time and money -- let alone sacrifice our mountaintops and rural communities -- on the boondoggle of big wind.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont