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Wind a Minor Player

Conservation More Effective Than Wind Energy

Pointing to the very small contribution of wind, National Wind Watch calls for conservation instead of industrialization of rural and wild landscapes

Rowe, Mass., July 30, 2007 - The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that if the world's nations pursue carbon-reducing plans they are currently considering, then in 2030 there could be 18 times more electricity generated from the wind than there was in 2004.

But because of continuing growth in demand, that would still represent less than five percent of the world's electricity production.

In the US, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the US Department of Energy projects that wind's share of electricity production will be less than one percent in 2030.

National Wind Watch (NWW), a coalition of groups and individuals providing information about industrial wind energy development, says that conservation could easily make up wind's small potential contribution.

"It is obvious - even in the IEA's very hopeful scenario - that wind will never be an important part of electricity production," says NWW president Eric Rosenbloom, author of A Problem With Wind Power. "Wind does not now nor will it ever replace other sources to any significant degree," Rosenbloom says. He adds, "That is not to endorse any other source as problem free, it is simply facing the fact that wind is not a viable alternative."

Since wind's potential contribution is so small, modest conservation would avoid the adverse impacts of wind energy development, according to National Wind Watch.

Click here to read the entire article with footnotes and references.



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Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Bill, are you against wind power as a whole or just against having wind power in Cohocton? To me, it appears as though you are against wind power as a whole because of the comments that you post.

I agree that the conservation of energy is very important and that it would offset the need for a lot of energy from all sources (not just wind). However, expanding and diversifying our country's energy portfolio is crucial to our country's national security. We see that now when foregion governments control our oil supply while Texas and Alaska has only enough to supply our current demands for 3 to 5 years.

No one in their right mind would invest their retirement in one stock or investment, but they would more wisely invest in a range of stocks or even in mutual funds. Correct? So, it seems logical (and it is) that our country invests its future energy needs into a variety of power generating sources that includes nuclear, fossil, hydro, geothermal, solar, and even wind.

Having wind power in our country's energy portfolio just makes common sense, and that is why it is hard for me to think that someone as educated as you are be against it on a national basis. I can see that you have some validity in your arguments about bringing it to Cohocton, but that is not to say that I agree with them.

So, I ask that you clarify if whether or not you are against wind energy as a whole or just against it in Cohocton? And, to go a step further, to you see any advantages of the country pursuing wind power?

Anonymous Anonymous Says:

According to Dominion Power, an operator of two nuclear power facilities in Virginia, the United States of America is responsible for 20% of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 1/3 of that is from electrical power generation sources such as coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. That is a pretty interesting fact considering that wind power does not produce CO2. I think Mr. Hodges has an excellent point on both the need for conservation and diversifying the nation's energy portfolio.

Blogger Bill Says:

Dear Gregory and David,

Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I'll try to respond briefly to your somewhat complex set of questions, since the issue of where wind power fits into the scheme of things operates at several levels:
1) Local siting: Is the wind strong and steady enough to be cost-effective? What negative impacts will local residents and/or the environment incur?
2) National energy supply: What role with wind power play in diversifying energy sources, primarily in reducing our dependence on oil and/or foreign involvements?
3) Global warming: What influence will wind power have on greenhouse gas production and its possible effect on global ecology?

I am convinced that industrial wind power, as currently proposed, is improperly sited in New York's Finger Lakes region generally and in Cohocton specifically for several reasons. Inland wind in the northeast, as opposed to offshore wind, is remarkably intermittent, out of phase with electricity demands, and geographically removed from major urban consumers. The Finger Lakes area is a scenic regional treasure that should not be marred by industrialization. The available sites for wind tower placement in Cohocton are so close to residences that significant noise and visual pollution is inevitable.

On a national level, wind power will have no effect on our reliance on oil, since oil is rarely, if ever, used to generate electricity. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the ownership and development of wind power facilities is shifting into foreign hands, as evidenced by the recent move by Spain's Iberdrola conglomerate to purchase Energy East (including RG&E) so that they can control wind development in the US northeast. The NWW article you are responding to points out the very small part wind might play in the overall national energy scene and comes to the conclusion that it would be an insignificant part of a broader portfolio, one that is probably not worth the investment. I agree that any balanced investment portfolio should be diverse, but investments with a poor return should be avoided whenever possible.

Global warming is definitely occurring and, even though there is still some significant controversy about how much human CO2 production is driving the problem, reasonable people are looking for ways to cut back on global emissions. The US is producing a lot of CO2 - although China is an unregulated major contributor - and cutting back on emissions from fossil fuel generation is a worthy goal. While it is true that wind power doesn't produce CO2, how much fossil fuel use it will actually displace is highly questionable, since fossil fuel facilities with equal or greater generating capacity need to remain on standby all the time.

Thanks again for your comments and the opportunity to respond. I trust that all of us are seeking the truth together, wherever that may lead. There is much more that could be said, but a lot of it has already been posted on our website. Please browse our site, using the Labels and Search functions for more details, and keep in touch!



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