The recent edition of the Wyoming Energy Journal cover story of “Twisting in the Wind” really caught my eye. That phrase usually refers to someone who has been hanged or something left to die on it’s own. And so, perhaps, should the wind industry be abandoned.
Wind is touted as the source of “green energy” set to solve our global warming problem and generally save the planet. The Journal has some information to help us evaluate this idea. In order to set up a wind farm, you need land, and in the case of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre projects involving about 1,000 turbines, it’s a lot. The Journal says “roughly
344 square miles,” but only 1,500 acres will actually be disturbed.
That’s not including the yet-to-be-built rail facility and the 59-mile road from there to the project, and 372 miles of roads inside the project. Also you need turbines, which need to be built and moved to the site, which is a job requiring many thousands of tons of carbon dioxide being emitted to produce and ship.
Next, where is the power going to? California. Just in the state of Wyoming about 1,000 miles of transmission lines have been planned. These will tie up many thousands of acres of land and require more roads. It is hard to figure the loss of power over these lines because of the many variables, but a rough guess is in the 2 percent to 5 percent per 100 miles. Added to that is the fact that since the wind doesn’t blow all the time, other power plants need to be online just waiting to be called on. All that time they will be producing carbon dioxide – the carbon dioxide the windmills are supposed to be saving.
So we tear up thousands of square miles of land, plant eyesores all over it, don’t save any carbon dioxide production all so California can “feel good.”
The beautiful sweep of the graceful blades whirling in the sunset…. ahhh.
Unless you happen to be a bird, or a bat, then it’s a killing zone. That’s OK though since the wind industry hasn’t had to pay for any dead birds. So we’re saving the planet, except for the birds.
The wind farm is for the birds.
So what to do? Since we have to have conventional generating units online why not build them closer to the users and save all the line losses, the thousands of miles of torn up country (leave it green), the birds, and the view? Bloom Boxes are a form of fuel cell currently in use in California, Utah and North Carolina. They are quite small and one the size of a large toaster would power your home. They run on natural gas or methane gas from a landfill. Or a Small Modular Nuclear reactors, like the one planned by the government in Tennessee this month? These can be near the point of use and save more carbon dioxide than wind mills, which produce about 25 percent of rated power and require these for backup anyway.
Stalick lives in Casper.
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