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