With 49 years as a power engineer to my credit, going from engineer apprentice to manager of the power supply for two-thirds of rural Illinois, my blood curdles when I read rabid pro-windmill articles such as the one that appeared on the March 31 Perspectives page (“Should wind be our future?”). It appears writer Dan Kohler doesn’t understand simple arithmetic, let alone the power situation in Wisconsin. Or, heaven forbid, that of the United States or the world.
It takes about 800 1,000-megawatt power plants or their equivalent to run the country on a daily basis. To be conservative, let’s say 700 1,000-megawatt plants. Power demand in the United States goes up possibly a little more than 2.5% each year, but again, to be conservative, let’s say 2%.
This means we must build 14 1,000-megawatt power plants every year just to keep up. Kohler would have us build 7,000 2-megawatt windmills instead, blissfully ignoring the fact that the 14 1,000-megawatt thermal or nuclear power plants still would have to be built to fill the considerable gap left by non-operating windmills when the wind doesn’t blow.
Customers would have to pay for two very expensive power plants to serve one block of power. None of this would in any way reduce the present carbon dioxide output, even if the windmills could run 100% of the time. Do we then build an additional 350,000 2-megawatt windmills to do this ?
6 April 2008
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