Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wind Power, is it really the next big thing?

I keep hearing about wind power, and how this form of Green Energy is the next big thing. It's being reported that Wind Energy is going to produce money for schools and produce many well paid jobs. Is all this true? Did the United States invent this cutting edge technology? Actually no, wind power has been around for many years and it's use as Green Technology has been implemented all across the globe. With so much track record surly we can look to it's significant achievements around the world, right?

The facts are not as spectacular as you might think. First, wind power is still very expensive to produce. A modern coal plant of conventional designs produces at about 7.8 cents a kilowatt-hour; a high-efficiency natural gas plant, 10.6 cents; and a new nuclear reactor, 10.8 cents. A wind plant in a favorable location would cost 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour. But if a utility relied on a great many wind machines, it would need to back them up with conventional generators in places where demand tends to peak on hot summer days with no breeze. That pushes the price up to just over 12 cents, making it more than 50 percent more expensive than a kilowatt-hour for coal.

The following is an excerpt from an Investors Business Daily Editorial.
Scandal: Spain exposed the boondoggle of wind power in 2009, discrediting an idea touted by the Obama administration. In response, U.S. officials banded with trade lobbyists to hide the facts. Research director Gabriel Calzada Alvarez didn't object to wind power itself, but found that when a government artificially props up this industry with subsidies, higher electrical costs (31%), tax hikes (5%) and government debt follow. Fact is, these subsidies have the same "Cuisinart" effect on jobs as wind-generating propeller blades have on birds. Every green job costs $800,000 to create and 90% of them are temporary, he found.

Ok, so I covered the hidden costs of wind power, what you should also know is that there may be unseen health effects of wind power as well. Many years ago several industries have experienced unforeseen health effects, consider asbestos in manufacturing, and the chemicals used for years by workers which we now know cause cancer. Wind Power may not be a new idea but certainly humans have only recently been exposed to giant turbines whirling around at high speed. Some studies have shown that wind turbines create infrasound which is sound lower than 20hz or the normal range of human hearing. This is similar to UV light which cannot be seen but we now understand can have many harmful effects. Many farmers have reported GPS malfunctions when operating under the turbines and we have known for some time now that they cause issues with Radar used by flight controllers so is it really hard to believe that there may be more going on then we can see or hear?

The whole reason I prepared this piece was to give an opposing view point. It's easy in today's day and age to fall victim to the propaganda being forced on us by all the government agencies involved in selling this program or that program to the American people. I'm not saying we should abandon wind power but we need to make sure it's really a solution before we dive into it with reckless abandon falling for the same old lure of high paying jobs and financial resources for the children.

One last question I would pose is this. What happens to the turbines when they fail? All we need to do is look at the west coast, Hawaii, Spain and Canada to see the sea of derelict and abandoned wind turbines. Developers continue to resist the practice of posting bonds for the decommissioning of failed and obsolete turbines, even when the only reason to access these bonds would be in the event one is abandoned and left to rot. Most simply argue that this would never happen as these turbines are far too profitable to abandon. Words alone however and not enough to prevent these companies from going bankrupt and leaving behind dead turbines with tons of steel and concrete waste.



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