The US is now in the position...,
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we is winning the war on terror - or - terror gets more "desperate"...,
the energy "crisis":
At the costs projected by Alpine Power Co, $87 billion would buy 192,904 windmills. The total resulting electricity production, again assuming each windmill can run one third of the time, would come to more than 1,015 billion kilowatt-hours per year. This amounts to about more than a quarter of all U.S. electricity consumption in 2000.
Sounds nice, so far as I can tell it's also feasible:
Until recently, the UK operated a competitive tender market for renewable energy sources which guaranteed payments for 15 years. Vigorous competition drove prices down rapidly and the prices realised in the last round of the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation may be compared with prices for new gas and coal-fired plant. These comparisons, shown in Figure 13.4, show that wind prices are very similar to those for coal-fired plant and only a little more than those of gas-fired plant. The second set of comparisons, shown in Figure 13.5, has been drawn from two US sources: a Department of Energy projection for 2005 and a recent analysis for the State of Oregon in 2000. This comparison shows a bigger gap between wind and gas although wind is significantly cheaper than nuclear. Other US data suggest that wind prices down to around 4 US cents/kWh can be realised in some areas.
...As the renewable energy sources make use of energy in forms that are diffuse, larger structures, or greater land use, tend to be required and attention may be focused on the visual effects. In the case of wind energy, there is also discussion of the effects of noise and possible disturbance to wildlife - especially birds...
...The exact distance at which noise from turbines becomes "acceptable" depends on a range of factors. As a guide, many wind farms with 400-500 kW turbines find that they need to be sited no closer than around 300-400 m to dwellings.
[In the United States] Federal tax credits in favour of wind energy assisted the development, and the expiry of such credits dampened the incentive to construct capacity.... it is the Great Plains states that hold the greatest potential for wind power: a 1991 Pacific Northwest Laboratory assessment of US wind potential gave North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico 82% of the approximately 1.1 million MW total US potential.
Right now the Department of Energy, under the "Wind Power Initiative", has set the goal for wind power to supply a mere 5% of US electricity production by 2020. Figuring we just gave the oil industry a $200+ billion dollar subsidy in the form of a war of choice on a major oil producing nation it seems kind of silly. You can take your pick of sources to cut out:
Or toss them in the ocean and start generating hydrogen out of sea water, providing a transportable energy source available for such disparate petrol-replacing things as fueling automobiles and farm machinery. For the price of the Iraq war we could have been well on our way to dismanteling our oil dependency, and resolving a host of other problems, like, say, unemployment (it takes a lot of people to write those Environmental Impact Assessments). Just don't try building them in Ed Kennedy's ocean or miles offshore of other wealthy, ocean-side dwelling peoples.
:: posted by buermann @ 2004-01-15 15:04:09 CST |