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The answer is not blowin' in the wind this time

... a critical analysis of the workings of our region's electricity grid reveals that industrial wind energy development within Appalachia belies its "green" reputation. ...Wind turbines will not lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law requires that 9.5 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources (basically from wind) by 2019, with a bump to 20 percent likely. Do the math. Meeting the aggressive RPS goals of Maryland and other states in the PJM grid region will require the permanent destruction of hundreds of miles of forested Appalachian ridgelines to accommodate thousands of wind turbines. Is it worth it? Hardly.

Many industrial-scale wind plants may be placed on the ridges of state and private lands in western Maryland. It's fair to say that the public has a favorable view of wind energy - on the surface it seems like a great idea.

I should clarify that I'm not unequivocally against industrial wind energy, nor do I oppose small-scale wind technologies.

Industrial wind is appropriate in locations such as west of the Mississippi River where 95 percent of our country's wind energy potential exists.

However, a critical analysis of the workings of our region's electricity grid reveals that industrial wind energy development within Appalachia belies its "green" reputation.

How can this be ... aren't wind turbines technically "green" when they're spinning, no matter where they're placed? Yep. Can their contribution make a dent in the total amount of electricity (and concomitant CO2 emissions) generated in our PJM grid region? Not likely. Why not? Why isn't industrial wind energy acceptable in Appalachia?

Our PJM electricity grid is the largest in the world, servicing Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland (hence "PJM"), West Virginia, Virginia and parts of Ohio to Illinois with a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Many industrial-scale wind plants may be placed on the ridges of state and private lands in western Maryland. It's fair to say that the public has a favorable view of wind energy - on the surface it seems like a great idea.

I should clarify that I'm not unequivocally against industrial wind energy, nor do I oppose small-scale wind technologies.

Industrial wind is appropriate in locations such as west of the Mississippi River where 95 percent of our country's wind energy potential exists.

However, a critical analysis of the workings of our region's electricity grid reveals that industrial wind energy development within Appalachia belies its "green" reputation.

How can this be ... aren't wind turbines technically "green" when they're spinning, no matter where they're placed? Yep. Can their contribution make a dent in the total amount of electricity (and concomitant CO2 emissions) generated in our PJM grid region? Not likely. Why not? Why isn't industrial wind energy acceptable in Appalachia?

Our PJM electricity grid is the largest in the world, servicing Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland (hence "PJM"), West Virginia, Virginia and parts of Ohio to Illinois with a staggering 165,000 MW (million watts) of installed capacity, fueled by 57 percent coal, 35 percent nuclear and 5 percent natural gas. The balance comes largely from renewables; oil comprises only .3 percent of our electricity's fuel mix.

Wind turbines will not lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law requires that 9.5 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources (basically from wind) by 2019, with a bump to 20 percent likely.

Do the math. Meeting the aggressive RPS goals of Maryland and other states in the PJM grid region will require the permanent destruction of hundreds of miles of forested Appalachian ridgelines to accommodate thousands of wind turbines.

Is it worth it? Hardly. It is critical to understand that the mass installation of industrial wind plants will do little to reduce emissions from the present generation of electricity by conventional (coal burning, CO2 producing) sources.

At best, wind energy will contribute only a portion of the electricity required simply to meet the current 1 or 2 percent annual growth in demand.

Supply growth driven by the present rate of demand increase will require the PJM grid's capacity to be doubled in a mere 30 years!

Wind's contribution will be readily swallowed by growth alone, and only a slight reduction in the RATE of CO2 emissions growth will be realized. Despite this subtle yet crucial reality, industrial wind energy is presented to the public as though it will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their present levels.

Paradoxically, it is conceivable that if enough industrial wind turbines are introduced into the grid then new conventional (read: CO2) generating facilities may have to be built to provide backup capacity when the turbines aren't producing much, which is 70 percent of the time annually, on average!

Other aspects of industrial wind energy, especially in Appalachia, are also deserving of a more critical look, including ecological impacts, aesthetics, noise and light pollution, adjacent landowner property devaluation, public access loss, accuracy of claims of economic benefits and exaggerated generating capacity.

But it is the overarching issue of industrial wind energy's dubious efficacy as a reliable energy source which casts the longest shadow.

We must all shop wisely for ways to mitigate the threat of climate change. Fortunately, society has some wiggle room by first removing profligate energy waste.

Conservation remains the cheapest form of energy. Aggressive efficiency improvements and conservation strategies are a better alternative to running headlong into the wind, sacrificing our cherished Appalachians for little true gain. See www.windaction.org for more information.

 


Source: http://www.times-news.com/o...

DEC 21 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/12493-the-answer-is-not-blowin-in-the-wind-this-time
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