Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Quixotic Quest for Power [Greg Pollowitz]
As we’ve evolved from a NIMBY (not in my backyard) nation to a full-fledged BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody) republic, power lines aren’t too popular. Seems that every other square foot is the protected habitat of an endangered critter or a “pristine” part of the earth that must be preserved.
Wind turbines generally operate at only 20% efficiency compared with 85% for coal, gas and nuclear plants. A single 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant would generate more dependable power than 2,800 1.5-megawatt occasionally operating wind turbines sitting on 175,000 acres.
Wind provides only 1% of our electricity compared with 49% for coal, 22% for natural gas, 19% for nuclear power and 7% for hydroelectric. To replace natgas’ 22% with wind would require building 300,000 1.5-megawatt turbines occupying an area the size of South Carolina. Again, ask the NIMBYs where they want them.
We have advocated a new Manhattan Project to build new nuclear power plants. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal, and our shale oil reserves by themselves dwarf Saudi oil reserves by a factor of three. And this doesn’t count the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or the Outer Continental Shelf.
As the men of La Mancha have found out, tilting at windmills may be entertaining, but the answer to our economic and energy woes is not blowin’ in the wind.