April 27, 2010

Appalachian Voices supports blowing up N.C. mountains to ram in wind turbines

Appalachian Voices appears to be an admirable conservation group, but in their avid desire to eliminate air pollution, stop mountaintop removal coal mining, and restore Appalachian forests, they too readily embrace the false promises of large-scale wind power. In an April 23 entry on their blog, they defend themselves against the charge of supporting the destruction of the mountains to erect giant wind turbines:
To imply that wind farms cause the same environmental toll as mountaintop removal is illogical. Wind energy is a proven technology that works, and has a relatively light environmental impact. A study conducted by Appalachian State University showed that wind energy development on a small percentage of North Carolina ridges could produce enough clean energy for 195,000 homes, create 350 green jobs, and have a net economic impact of over one billion dollars.
The claim of illogic depends, of course, on the soundness of the asserted premise that "Wind energy is a proven technology that works".

That is precisely the issue: Wind energy is a mature technology, but it has yet to show meaningful benefit. This is underscored by the study they cite, which concludes that wind development could produce a certain amount of energy. What is needed, however, is a study showing that wind has produced a certain amount of energy, and — crucially — that the contribution reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, coal mining, deforestation, or anything.

In fact, studies of existing wind on the grid show little, if any, beneficial effect. Therefore, although wind's roads and clearcutting may be seen as less than those of mountaintop removal for coal, those impacts are in addition to those of coal. Wind does not replace or even meaningfully reduce coal. There is very little, if any, benefit to justify wind's environmental impacts.

Appalachian Voices admits supporting the blowing up of mountains in western North Carolina to ram in wind turbines. Their defense fails, however, because it depends on a false premise.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism