February 16, 2005


Tilting at Windmills (Bill McKibben, 2/16/05, NY Times)

Around the world [wind power is] the fastest growing source of electric generation, mostly because the technology, unlike solar power, has evolved to the point where it's cost-competitive with fossil fuels. The Danes already generate nearly a quarter of their power from the breeze; the Germans and the Spaniards and the British are rapidly heading in the same direction.

In America, however, the growth of wind power has been slower. Partly that's because the Bush administration's stance on climate change has meant scant government support for renewable energy. But partly, too, it's because environmentalists, particularly in the crowded East, haven't come to terms with this technology. In fights in Cape Cod, the mountains of Vermont, and the ridgelines of Maryland, they've divided into bitter factions over almost every turbine proposal. On one side, national environmental groups like Greenpeace have backed many installations, arguing that the dangers of global warming far outweigh any local effects. On the other side, neighbors of proposed wind farms have joined with local chapters of big conservation groups to fight the Statue-of-Liberty-size windmills on environmental grounds, chiefly arguing that they'll destroy the scenic beauty of their areas.

That may be provincial, but it's not entirely inaccurate.

Yesterday I saw a Volvo with Vermont plates and a bumpoer sticker that said: "No Wind Power." Let's assume the driver isn't an advocate for drilling in ANWR or building new nuclear plants. Driving a car suggests she wasn't a Luddite. Where do these folks expect energy to come from if they oppose every means of generating it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2005 6:15 AM

Do as I say, not as I do...

- Barbra Streisand

Posted by: Bartman at February 16, 2005 9:49 AM

The 25% figure can not possibly be correct. I could easily be wrong, but a quick search showed that as of 1999-2000 wind power represented ~.1% of energy production (even less of energy consumption). (e.g., earthtrends.wri.org) Even bio-mass produced 3x as wind in 2001.

Posted by: Moe from NC at February 16, 2005 9:56 AM

Whenever I read about stuff like this I feel like Dogbert. I can't resist wagging my tail.

It is just one more proof, if one were needed, that the enviros don't want to solve problems, they want to BE problems.

McKibben is one of the worst. IIRC, he once wrote an article stating that the real problem with the world was human beings and the solution was to not have children. He later modified his stance to state that it was OK to have one.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 16, 2005 12:02 PM

"Where do these folks expect energy to come from if they oppose every means of generating it?"

Recycling! Don't you realize that the laws of thermodynamics don't apply to you when you hold the proper political views?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 16, 2005 1:14 PM


Posted by: Luciferous at February 16, 2005 4:51 PM

A friend of mine is promising to build a 20 MW wind farm this year. If he does, it will only have taken 25 years, during which period the consumption of electricity here has gone up about 100 MW.

Wind does not make enough electricity to make a difference.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at February 17, 2005 1:13 AM

Midwestern farmers are starting to plant windmills as another "crop" to harvest from their land. The plains are prime wind country. Many of the farmers are jointly creating LLCs (limited liability corporations) to pool their resources and build the infrastructure. The long economic drought for farmers has turned the corner, farm commodities have bottomed and are on an upward rise. Look for family farms to make a comeback, driven both by commodites and by energy (wind and ethanol).

Posted by: Robert Duquette at February 17, 2005 1:09 PM