March 29, 2007

Oil is for transport and heating, not electricity

Farnham Woods comments on an idiotic article in yesterday's Salon:

Only about 3% of the electricity in the U.S. is generated from oil, and that's mostly from sludge left over after refining.

Mandelstam keeps talking about the newness of wind on the grid but also notes that Europe has 15 years of experience with it. That experience is notably missing from this article. Europe is still using fossil fuels at the same rate as ever. Germany, the world's leader in wind capacity, has 26 new coal plants planned. Denmark, the per-capita leader, hasn't put up a new turbine since 2004. In Spain, with the third largest wind plant, energy giant Iberdrola is moving much of its investment to North America. Wind has proven to be a dead end. It has proven to be an expensive, destructive boondoggle.

Also missing from this article is any hint that opposition is not limited to the rich protecting their ocean views. In fact, there are hundreds of opposition groups around the world, many of them in poor rural communities, protecting the only thing of value they have -- peace and quiet -- from sprawling industrial plants. Opposition includes indigenous communities in Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and India -- all fighting not a "green alternative" but the same predatory developers they have always had to fight.

Finally, the claim that birds are not threatened by "modern" turbines is belied by the continuing fact of their deaths. The Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society in New York recently acquired the draft report of the first-year study of bird and bat deaths at the 120-turbine facility in Lewis County. The company-sponsored survey estimated that at least 3,000 to 6,000 birds and bats were killed by the turbines last year. The rpm of the turbine blades is indeed lower, but they now sweep a vertical area of 1 to 2 acres with tip speeds of 150-200 mph. And the much higher towers put them into the paths of many more migrating birds.

Nobody questions the obvious problems with coal. But no matter how many giant wind turbines we build, it will unfortunately not reduce our use of coal one lump.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights