November 27, 2007

Colorado: 20% of electricity from wind and solar means 18% new nonrenewables, too

An analysis by the Colorado Energy Forum (CEF) notes that Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), requiring that 20% of the electricity from investor-owned utilities (and 10% from large municipal and rural cooperative utilities) be obtained from renewable sources, primarily wind, by 2020, will not represent a correspondingly expanded capacity to to reliably supply growing demand.

The CEF analysis estimated that more than 3,300 MW of wind generation and nearly 200 MW of solar generation must be deployed to meet Colorado's RES.

However, after taking into account the intermittent nature of many renewable energy resources, especially wind and solar, a gap in needed power supplies of between 3,700 and 4,500 megawatts will still exists.

"When taking into account the intermittent nature of wind and solar resources, we estimate that the reliable capacity credit for these renewable resources ranges between 330 MW and 1,122 MW," according to the study's authors. "This means that even after the requirements of Colorado's RES are met, significant amounts of new electric generating capacity still will be required to meet the state's needs. Based on the assumptions and data in this study, Colorado will need to address additional resource needs in the range of 3,700 MW to 4,500 MW by 2025." (press release, Nov. 9, 2007)
In other words, all those wind turbines won't keep the lights on. You have to use other sources to guarantee capacity, because the wind doesn't always blow when you need it.

In addition, there is a need of new capacity because of adding a significant amount of wind to the system. The grid requires excess capacity to be able to cope not only with times of exceptional demand but also with outages (inadvertent as well as for maintenance) of some of its plants. The wind is largely unpredictable, especially for the precise needs of the electrical supply, so more excess capacity is required to deal with that extra burden.

Giant wind turbines are not symbols of "green energy"; they are window dressing for a huge expansion of the conventional grid.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

November 16, 2007

Green technology just a new name for old pattern of exploitation

Wendell Berry, letter to the editor, New York Review of Books, Sept. 27, 2007:

... As for rural poverty, Mr. Dyson's thinking ["Our Biotech Future", July 19] is all too familiar to any rural American: "What the world needs is a technology that directly attacks the problem of rural poverty by creating wealth and jobs in the villages." This is called "bringing in industry," a practice dear to state politicians. To bring in industry, the state offers "economic incentives" (or "corporate welfare") and cheap labor to presumed benefactors, who often leave very soon for greater incentives and cheaper labor elsewhere.

Industrial technology, as brought-in industry and as applied by agribusiness, has been the cleverest means so far of siphoning the wealth of the countryside -- not to the cities, as Mr. Dyson appears to think, for urban poverty is inextricably related to rural poverty -- but to the corporations. Industries that are "brought in" convey the local wealth out; otherwise they would not come. And what makes it likely that "green technology" would be an exception? How can Mr. Dyson suppose that the rural poor will control the power of biotechnology so as to use it for their own advantage? Has he not heard of the patenting of varieties and genes? Has he not heard of the infamous lawsuit of Monsanto against the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser? I suppose that if, as Mr. Dyson predicts, biotechnology becomes available -- cheaply, I guess -- even to children, then it would be available to poor country people. But what would be the economic advantage of this? How, in short, would this work to relieve poverty? Mr. Dyson does not say.

His only example of a beneficent rural biotechnology is the cloning of Dolly the sheep. But he does not say how this feat has benefited sheep production, let alone the rural poor.

[These statements apply similarly to wind energy development. See also the comments by Garret Keizer (click here) specifically about wind energy and the rural poor.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, human rights, animal rights, , anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism

November 14, 2007

Struggle for land rights in India and Mexico

National Wind Watch has posted recent detailed updates about the struggle of the Zapotecas in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Adivasis in Gujarat, India, against abuses by giant wind companies (Spain's Iberdrola in Mexico and Suzlon in India), aided by the government and police, taking land for industrial wind energy facilities.

Grassroots Resistance: Contesting Wind Mill Construction in Oaxaca, by Sylvia Sanchez (originally published by Znet)

Unclean Intrigues Behind Clean Energy: Dhule Adivasis’ Glorious Struggle for Land Rights, by a fact-finding team led by Anand Teltumbde (originally published at

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism

November 13, 2007

It's killing season!

To balance the current deer-season adulation of killing for "sport", click the title of this post for the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting.

You can hunt all you want, but this group shows that most rationalizations of it are delusional and self-serving.

To start with, hunting isn't about keeping the deer (or moose or bear) population down. State Fish & Game agencies "manage" the population so there's plenty for the hunters, who then finance those agencies in a self-perpetuating circle.

And shouldn't we be recoiling in horror at pictures of children and "their" kills? What "tradition" are they being trained for, if not one of being comfortable with self-serving deadly violence? Is that healthy?

It is true that some land is kept from development owing to the interests of hunters. But that, too, is problematic, because the best forest for hunting is frequently logged, not left wild. And it's nothing but sad that the only way some people can enjoy (or justify) the outdoors is by killing something in it.

If you eat animal flesh, then you certainly might as well get out and kill it yourself, but it is rather a stretch to claim any honor or sport in it.

Most people mark the progress of human civilization by how much more we can do without having to kill, not by how much more sportingly or efficiently or rationally we can kill. So let's keep our shortcomings in perspective, not on a pedestal.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, ecoanarchism

November 12, 2007

Reality to Welch: You voted for war

Nobody is blaming Vermont's U.S. Representative Peter Welch for not ending the military occupation of Iraq, as he seems to think (in a strange chimera of egomaniacal humility). But neither is anybody buying his line that he is "doing everything possible" to end it, as he again asserted in the Aldrich Public Library in Barre last night.

Welch voted to continue funding the occupation. That is the simple fact that has angered his constituents, who voted for him because of his firm stand against that occupation.

By pleading that he alone can't stop the occupation, by pretending that Vermonters are scapegoating him out of impotence, frustration, or (as he implied) amusement, he refuses to admit his small part in the war's perpetuation.

To argue political "reality" is bullshit in this case. If Bush is going to veto any anti-war bill, that is not a reason to give him the funding he needs to keep his (our) killing machine going in Iraq. It is instead a reason to refuse to be a part of the crime.

This situation demands being "bad" not a "good German", Congressman Welch. It demands standing up to Nancy Pelosi and her committee assignment bribes. It demands remembering the principles you ran on.

Does anyone now believe that Martha Rainville's votes would have been any different than Welch's?

Keep up with this issue at Michael Colby's "Broadsides" blog.

Vermont, anarchism

November 10, 2007

Wind in Texas only 8.7% reliable

Press release, March 29, 2007 -- ERCOT Response to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton:
With regard to renewable energy, ERCOT is proud to have more wind generation in its region than any other state in the nation. Currently, almost 3,000 MW of new wind generation is either under construction or publicly announced, in addition to the 3,000 MW already existing in ERCOT. A significantly larger amount of future wind generation is also under study. Wind energy is good, clean energy and should be used to the fullest of its capability. At the same time, wind does not blow at a constant level, and in Texas is often at a low level at the time of the peak electrical demand during summer afternoons. ERCOT studies the availability of wind generation using its historical wind generation data. Using 2006 data, ERCOT has determined that 8.7% of the installed wind capability can be counted as dependable capacity during the peak demand period for the next year. Conventional generation must be available to provide the remaining capacity needed to meet forecast load and reserve requirements.
(ERCOT [The Electric Reliability Council of Texas] manages the flow of electric power to approximately 20 million Texas customers.)

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

November 9, 2007

France's president Sarkozy not impressed by wind turbines

Nikolas Sarkozy, President of France, at the concluding session of the "Grenelle de L'Environnement, Thursday, 25 October 2007 (click here for the full speech, in which he also announced that industrial wind turbine construction should be limited to existing brownfields):

Franchement, quand je survole certains pays européens cela ne donne pas envie.

Francamente, cuando sobrevuelo algunos países europeos, no dan muchas ganas de instalarlos.

Ganz ehrlich, wenn ich über manche europäischen Länder fliege, dann vergeht mir die Lust.

Frankly, when I fly over a number of European countries what I see does not recommend wind energy.

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

Newsweek adds defamatory voice to wind development juggernaut

Not satisfied with the "NIMBY" pejorative, Roya Wolverson, writing in the Nov. 12, 2007, Newsweek, rolls out "citiot". Taking her cue from professional anti-environmentalist Frank Maisano, spokesman for a coalition of mid-Atlantic wind energy developers, she caricaturizes the battles over industrial wind turbine siting as between farmers and second-home owners ("citiots") -- as if installing an array 400′-high machines that generate noise and visual distraction night and day is no more offensive than spreading manure once or twice a year. Hosting giant wind turbines is no more farming than turning your fields into a NASCAR track.

The caricature, useful as it is to the developers and the landowners salivating for the developers' crumbs, ignores environmentalist opposition, turbines sited on mountain ridges, the fact that as taxpayers we are all paying for the boondoggle, and that, as one of the comments to the article notes, many leasers are absentee owners. As the saying goes, who's watching the farm? She also ignores the common subversion of local democracy, where the leasers are also the town officials that are supposed to listen to all of the people but instead act to self-servingly facilitate the developers.

Finally, she ignores the evidence that wind on the grid does not do what it is supposed to do, that is, reduce the use of other fuels. Small amounts of wind energy -- which is necessarily highly variable and intermittent -- require other sources to work harder to balance the extra fluctuation they add. Substantial wind capacity requires new "conventional" sources to be able to balance it and keep the grid stable. Since the only practical sites for large wind energy installations are far from people (though still impacting animals and plants), they also require new high-capacity transmission lines (not to mention heavy-duty roads) through those remote areas.

What is significant here, therefore, is that the developers (and their abettors) have apparently given up trying to argue that there are benefits from big wind that outweigh the negative impacts. Dare we say, they have lost that argument? They now have only their nasty contempt for opposition voices and appeals to shortsighted greed.

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

NBC News drinks the Danish wind Koolaid

On Nov. 5, NBC Nightly News, 80% of which is owned by General Electric, the leading U.S. manufacturer of wind turbines, sang the praises of wind energy in Denmark, saying the Danes lead the way that we should follow.

This was part of the network's "green week", a fine idea but one that should not be seen as a license to abandon all veridicality.

The piece on wind included many errors of fact.

To start with, Denmark's wind turbines do not "supply 20% of Denmark's electricity needs".

Denmark's wind turbines produce electricity equivalent to 20% of what the country uses. But much (if not most) of that wind-generated energy is exported to larger grids that can absorb the fluctuations better.

Rather than leading the way to building even more wind turbines, Denmark has in fact essentially halted new onshore construction. Any development that is still talked about (to keep the market for Vestas turbines alive) is far off shore. But even that has stalled since 2004 because of the expense and technical challenges.

The island of Samso is presented as so successfully energy independent that it produces more than it needs. Actually, the island is able to "depend" on its highly variable and intermittent wind turbines precisely because it is still connected to the national grid and not independent at all. The island uses the national grid to balance its wind energy, just as Denmark as a whole uses the international grid.

While it is true that wind turbines emit "no pollution or carbon dioxide" (after their (and their infrastructure's) manufacture, transport, and construction, and not counting ongoing maintenance (including oil changes) or if they are built on and thus disturb peat or other important carbon sinks), the crucial fact is that neither do they reduce pollution or carbon dioxide emitted by other sources. There is no evidence that Denmark has reduced emissions or other fuel use because of wind on its grid.

That is the unfortunate fact that is getting harder every year to deny or ignore, even if one's only goal is to create a market for Vestas and GE.

wind power, wind energy,environment, environmentalism

Dreams of 20% penetration

Carl Levesque of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) writes in Renewable Energy Access (Nov. 7, 2007):
AWEA Policy Director Rob Gramlich provided a glimpse of the 20% vision technical report that is due to come out soon. The vision, which Gramlich emphasized assumes "stable and long-term policy," calls for a ramp-up in deployment of wind power capacity form the current 3,000-4,000 megawatts (MW) annually to 16,000 MW per year at peak. Gramlich also showed the conceptual map developed by American Electric Power of a grid that can efficiently accommodate 20% wind (as well as benefit all of the electric industry). The map calls for up to 15,000 miles of new transmission lines.
That's one new giant turbine every hour for the next 25 years (allowing 3 years to get up to that rate). In addition to the proposed 15,000 miles of new high-capacity transmission lines (mostly in rural and wild areas), 400,000 MW of new wind turbines would require 20,000,000 acres (31,250 square miles!) of newly industrialized land.

And since demand will also grow, all those wind turbines will have barely reached 10% "penetration" -- god save us from 20%! And, as well explained elsewhere, they will have done nothing to reduce the consumption of other fuels or their emissions.

Continuing this boondoggle is clearly madness. Enlarging it is sociopathic.

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

November 6, 2007

Environmentalists starting to notice destructive wind energy development

The Collectif du 6 octobre notes that they are succeeding in turning environmentalists against industrial wind turbines in rural and wild areas, as evidenced by Nicolas Hulot writing in Le Figaro, October 20, 2007:
Recently, a collective of organizations met in Paris to demonstrate against wind turbines. They often have good reasons. The wind turbine lobby is often cloase to the nuclear lobby, working on mayors of small towns with proposals of new income. They have installed wind turbines in spite of good sense. Fields of wind turbines on industrial farms don't shock anyone. But when magnificent countrysides are sacrificed, I understand why there would be reactions.
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

November 5, 2007

Exploding wind turbine transformer

In response to a Nov. 1 query from a concerned citizen for information concerning reports of an explosion in one of the transformers at the "Maple Ridge" wind energy facility on Tug Hill, N.Y., and a truck working in the middle of the night at the base of each turbine, wrote on Nov. 2:
We've checked out the situation and there appears to be no truth to the report.
But (Jack Nasca) wrote on Nov. 5:
We spoke to the operators at the Maple Ridge site and have learned:

On July 4, a single pad mounted grounding transformer located at the Rector Road substation exploded and was rendered inoperative. This was one of ten such transformers in the substation. No cause was determined, and the transformer has been sent back to the manufacturer for an analysis to identify the cause. Lightning was not a factor. None of the other nine grounding transformers at the substation had any problems, and there have been no incidents at turbine base transformers.

Unrelated to the above, a program of annual preventative maintenance of transformers at the base of the turbines was conducted over the summer. This included an analysis of the mineral oil used as a coolant. A gas analysis of the cooling oil was conducted, which indicated elevated levels of certain gases in about 30% of the transformers, one of which was hydrogen. A contractor specializing in purging gases from transformer cooling oil was hired to remove the gases identified in the analysis. Because the contractor was very busy (apparently this occurs with some regularity with transformers in any type of transmission facility), they worked 24/7 for a 2 ½ week period to complete the task. So at some point they were working at "midnight." The process involves withdrawal of the oil from the transformer, piping it to a truck with the purging equipment, capture and collection of the gas for disposal off-site, and returning the oil to the transformer. It was stated that there is no atmospheric release of gases from this process.
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines

November 2, 2007

A Forsaken Garden

by Algernon Charles Swinburne



In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland,

At the sea-down’s edge between windward and lee,

Walled round with rocks as an inland island,

The ghost of a garden fronts the sea.

A girdle of brushwood and thorn encloses

The steep square slope of the blossomless bed

Where the weeds that grew green from the graves of its roses

Now lie dead.


The fields fall southward, abrupt and broken,

To the low last edge of the long lone land.

If a step should sound or a word be spoken,

Would a ghost not rise at the strange guest’s hand?

So long have the gray bare walks lain guestless,

Through branches and briers if a man make way,

He shall find no life but the sea-wind’s, restless

Night and day.


The dense hard passage is blind and stifled

That crawls by a track none turn to climb

To the strait waste place that the years have rifled

Of all but the thorns that are touched not of time.

The thorns he spares when the rose is taken;

The rocks are left when he wastes the plain.

The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken,

These remain.


Not a flower to be prest of the foot that falls not;

As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are dry;

From the thicket of thorns whence the nightingale calls not,

Could she call, there were never a rose to reply.

Over the meadows that blossom and wither

Rings but the note of a sea-bird’s song;

Only the sun and the rain come hither

All year long.


The sun burns sear, and the rain dishevels

One gaunt bleak blossom of scentless breath.

Only the wind here hovers and revels

In a round where life seems barren as death.

Here there was laughing of old, there was weeping,

Haply, of lovers one never will know,

Whose eyes went seaward a hundred sleeping

Years ago.


Heart handfast in heart as they stood, “Look thither,”

Did he whisper! “Look forth from the flowers to the sea;

For the foam-flowers endure when the rose-blossoms wither,

And men that love lightly may die — but we?”

And the same wind sang, and the same waves whitened,

And or ever the garden’s last petals were shed,

In the lips that had whispered, the eyes that had lightened,

Love was dead.


Or they loved their life through, and then went whither?

And were one to the end — but what end who knows?

Love deep as the sea as a rose must wither,

As the rose-red seaweed that mocks the rose.

Shall the dead take thought for the dead to love them?

What love was ever as deep as a grave?

They are loveless now as the grass above them

Or the wave.


All are at one now, roses and lovers,

Nor known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea.

Not a breath of the time that has been hovers

In the air now soft with a summer to be.

Not a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter

Of the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep,

When as they that are free now of weeping and laughter,

We shall sleep.


Here death may deal not again for ever;

Here change may not come till all change end.

From the graves they have made they shall rise up never,

Who have left nought living to ravage and rend.

Earth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,

While the sun and the rain live, these shall be;

Till a last wind’s breath upon all these blowing

Roll the sea.


Till the slow sea rise, and the sheer cliff crumble,

Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,

Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble

The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink,

Here now in his triumph where all things falter,

Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,

As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,

Death lies dead.