A spot on the Drudge Report last night has brought a flood of traffic and sparked a lively (to say the least) conversation in the comments on Sean’s The Falmouth Experience: Life Under the Blades. Just a few things to keep in mind:
- What we’re striving for here is a conversation. Facts, opinions, and personal experiences are all more than welcome. Be blunt, if you’re so inclined, but please keep it respectful.
- It’s been gratifying to see some of you bringing your fellow commenters back to reality, or at least the subject at hand. Keep it up!
- And, finally, don’t forget that this is a week-long event – a marathon, not a sprint. By all means weigh in whenever the spirit moves you, but know that no one interview or story can tell, well, the whole story. So stick with us.
But I don’t want to sound like a party-pooper. There’s some gold in that thread, too. Many of you have turned to the broader issues of what a clean, healthy, and renewable energy portfolio might look like. A number of commenters have highlighted what they consider to be the pitfalls of wind energy, others have presented their visions for a power system based on nuclear power or small-scale, off-grid electricity generation. Here are a few highlights from the conversation so far.
Billslycat responded to Jumpinjimmy:
INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES DO NOT PROVIDE RENEWABLE ENERGY!!!
To quote John Barwis, an energy expert: “Won’t wind turbines decrease emissions of ash, sulfur and nitrogen, heavy metals, and CO2? Won’t we enjoy health benefits, and be doing our part to “save the planet”? Well actually, no. Fluctuations in wind speed cause variations in electrical yield from wind turbines, and these variations do not match electricity demand. So no matter how many windmills are installed, conventional power plants must provide 100 percent backup capacity to avoid power shortages. These backup plants must ramp their output up or down to offset changes in wind speed. Changing the output of a fossil-fuel generation system has a negative impact on its efficiency…
The financial viability of renewables has been questioned several times. For example, 44guyton writes:
Wind turbines are a huge scam. From the Energy Information Administration oil & gas subsidies 25 cents per MWH while wind & solar $24 per MWH (96 times as much!!!).
But jrshipley counters:
… The fact is that fossil fuels get far greater subsidies, especially when you include the costs associated with pollution as a subsidy. The fact is that the wind power industry is creating jobs and supplying clean power. That seems worth investing in. Meanwhile, the oil industry destroyed not only the jobs of gulf fishermen but nearly destroyed an entire way of life built around the ecology of those fisheries. Or have we already forgotten “spill baby spill”?
The merits of nuclear power has also been a big theme. rokjok34 focused on the potential output:
I work for a company that operates a nuclear plant as well as wind, solar, and a small hydro plant. Just to give everyone an idea of their different outputs; Today the nuclear reactor is operating at 1157 MWe, the dam is producing 5 MWe, the wind farm 22 MWe, and the solar 0 MWe… I just wanted to point out the difference in generation. Nuclear puts wind and solar to shame.
Finally, solo_poke argues that the problem is the scale of development, not the energy generating technologies themselves:
As a builder of wind turbines I can tell you everybody missed the point of wind and solar energy completely. The amount of energy and materials used to construct large energy projects and the transmission equipment and lines required is wasted when compared to small wind turbines and solar panels on peoples homes. This is the game being played by the big corporations which saw the loss of an entire revenue stream if people figured out how to supply their own energy. I hope people realize that the best way to stop these large scale projects, is to reduce and find the best solution to supply their own energy in their particular location. …
A few months ago, I put together a slide show of what energy generation looks like in southeastern Massachusetts. You can view it here.