I used to write off a few chopped birds too, when I actually thought industrial wind was an economical, reliable, eco-friendly solution to all our energy needs of the future. Plop the big fans anywhere and the job market would be booming, tax revenues would be flooding into local coffers and buses full of sightseers would be driving into town staying in motels, buying hot dogs and t-shirts by the thousands and all the dirty old fossil fueled power plants would be shuttered. But then I began to understand that none of that good stuff happens in real life.
The quote about killing birds in the title comes from the Baltimore Sun article today, tipped here by Mr. John Bambacus, which discusses a study funded by the Abell Foundation and conducted by the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.
The article, Study boosts notion of offshore wind production – (Abell Foundation says turbine operation could generate jobs, too), says “Offshore wind energy can furnish Marylanders with as much as two-thirds of the electricity they currently use, and if aggressively developed, could turn the state into a net exporter of power” and “There is, if Maryland so chooses, a significant opportunity to develop a very robust offshore wind energy economy and create a new economic and job base in the state.”
Not bad so far, but I suppose in the excitement this clunker popped out, “Capitalizing on offshore wind energy also could significantly reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.” This might not be as effective a comment as it once was, since the “climate warming” scare tactic thingy seems to be evaporating faster than Kilimanjaro’s snows. Folks aren’t nearly as enthused about all that right now as before.
But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. See, we’re not here to rain on anyone’s parade, we just hope that they’ve also considered these few items among the many others which suggest industrial wind, as an excellent energy source, might need another look-see:
JOBS: “Despite record growth in generating capacity, the (wind) industry is creating few employment opportunities overall.”
RELIABILITY: “Wind farms produced ‘practically no electricity’ during Britain’s cold snap”
COST: “Cape Wind’s big secret – Power will cost millions extra” and “WSJ: “Government subsidies are turning renewable energy into big business.”
WHEELS AND DEALS: “Ms. Industrial Wind get’s hitched to Mr. National Grid while Pastor Politics holds the shotgun” and “Uh Oh! Is another “shotgun wedding” in the offing for National Grid?”
CO2 REDUCTION: “Denmark’s massive 20 year industrial wind effort brings no reduction in CO2 emission”
REPLACING FOSSIL FUEL PLANTS: “The dirty little secret – Denmark still generates most of its energy from coal.” and “Confucius say, “adding more polluting coal-fired power plants is unavoidable if you want to be green.” and “Will industrial wind replace fossil fuel? Just do the math!” and “Just a little reminder – wind won’t replace coal. Sorry, but it’s just a fact!”
finally, FOR GOOD MEASURE:
Glenn Schleede: “The True Cost of Electricity from Wind is Always Underestimated and its Value is Always Overestimated”
Rethinking wind power – John Droz, Jr. | Cleantech Group
Selling Industrial Wind: Government, the Media and Common Sense – UPDATE
and “Industrial wind – just the facts, folks!”
So, as I said, I don’t want to dismiss the good intentions displayed in the article. But if you’re thinking is along the lines of “Yeah, you’re going to kill some birds…” like mine was, you might want to be sure that what you’re getting is worth the price.
Oh, and one more thing … the article mentions that “We’re not looking to fill every spot out there with wind turbines,” and that’s good because this article only concerns itself with Maryland. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Virginia and all the coastal states are looking to place turbines offshore as a way of producing jobs and energy. Some of us are concerned that as individual states rush to develop their place in the energy market for industrial wind plants onshore, offshore or both, the result will be a cumulative disaster.
As I mentioned in a recent email to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “My concern, and my plea to the Committee is that, in making recommendations, they continue to keep in mind the cumulative impact of industrial wind across our lands. My own state, West Virginia, has established goals for renewable energy, yet my suspicion is that no one in the state legislature has a clear concept of what the goals mean in terms of potential land and air saturation. Unless “land mass and air space consumed” is part of the calculation when establishing renewable energy percentage goals, our migratory flyways may well become so obstructed that species will not be able to navigate the path which they are driven to fly by their ancient instincts.
The same concerns hold true for our neighbors due to their great responsibility to protect oceans and bays.