January 17, 2007

"Wind power not such a good idea"

Richie Davis of the Greenfield (Mass.) Recorder wrote a fair article (click the title of this post) about opposition to industrial wind energy, featuring a couple of the founders of National Wind Watch.

I want to call attention to the final quote from William Labich, resource planner for Franklin County: "The technology isn’t the issue; it’s the siting of the technology, and how you apply it."

Notice how that attempts to evade the fundamental problem industrial wind energy on the grid has had, namely, showing that the technology actually reduces other sources, especially carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Saying, as Sally Wright -- of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst -- does elsewhere in the article, that "for every kilowatt hour that you make with a wind turbine, that’s a kilowatt hour not made with a fossil plant" ignores the real-world effect of adding large amounts of a highly variable, intermittent, and significantly unpredictable source such as wind to the grid. The extra work to balance the wind-generated power and the lower efficiency of extra ramping appear to cancel out much, if not all, of the benefits hoped for from wind.

In other words, every kWh from wind may indeed replace a kWh from other sources (and not necessarily fossil-fuel plants), but that is very different from actually reducing the fuel use of other sources, what with standby, spinning reserve, or extra fuel burned in ramping up and down.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism