February 2, 2007

AWEA: Wind energy capacity passed 1% of U.S. total in 2006

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) issued a press release last Tuesday boasting that 2,454 MW of new wind energy capacity was erected in 2006, an increase of 27%, to 11,603 MW. That brings it up to 1.2% of the total generating capacity in the U.S.

More than 35,000 MW of new non-wind capacity is estimated to have been added in 2006 to bring the total to an estimated 980,000 MW.

According to the Energy Information Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, wind produced 0.36% (14.6 billion kWh) of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2005 (4.036 trillion kWh). (That represents an average (some days more, most days a lot less) output of 21% capacity, only two-thirds of the 30% claimed by AWEA. Assuming a 2% increase in the total, the 27% increase in wind would bring its share to 0.45%.

The large space requirements and aggressive visual intrusion of industrial wind are already causing resistance to its continued expansion. Just to stay at its current level of 0.45% "penetration" would require adding over 450 MW (at about 50 acres per MW) in 2007 and progressively more each year thereafter.

A "modest" 5% penetration today would require 130,000 MW of new wind capacity, increasing every year. The total today would require 6.5 million acres, or 10,000 square miles, about the total land and water area of Massachusetts. That's outrageous enough, but imagine the more ambitious goals of two to four times that. These are giant moving machines, strobe-lit day and night, each sweeping an vertical area of 1-2 acres with blades traveling 150-200 mph at their tips.

This does not even consider the massive amounts of new high-capacity transmission infrastructure that would be needed to get all that wind energy from the formerly bucolic rural and wild provinces to power the lobbyists at AWEA.

This is not a green alternative but industrialism running amok. Big wind is clearly irrelevant to our energy plans, a source of more problems than it can claim to solve, an obvious dead end.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, ecoanarchism, animal rights, vegetarianism