Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wind Energy - Not as Friendly as You Thought

Wind Energy-

Everyone around here is raving about this as a real solution to our depending on oil (notice I did not say foreign oil). Is it a good alternative? You'll have to read my previous post (right before this one) on once-through cooling at energy generating plants about how you determine if something is "good". It is a matter of balance, and if the pros outweigh the cons.

Pros of wind energy:
Relatively "Clean", meaning not a lot of waste is produced, especially CO2 waste
Uses wind, which is out there, blowing around, for free

Cons of wind energy:
Besides the decrease in production efficiency...
Have you driven by a wind farm???

Ok, so here is my rant. They put these things out in the desert largely, just miles and miles of windmills. It is just the desert, right? It is not like it is bothering anyone? Ok, it may not be bothering anyONE. But, it is definitely bothering THINGS. Yes, shockingly, even though we people do not like the desert so much as our preferred habitat, lots of other organisms like it quite a lot, thank you very much. So, you plop miles and miles of windmills on top of something's home, it is going to have an impact. Then, there are the miles and miles of transmission lines for getting the power to the places the people really do live. The biggest losers here are birds. Migratory birds, particularly the big predatory ones, aka "Birds of Prey", migrate along these wind corridors. Look at the base of a windmill and you are likely to find a pile of dead birds. And, bats. People are studying this, and I am not trying to demonize the wind energy people, because they are trying to make improvements. I just want folks to realize that nothing comes for free in this world. I think the pros probably outweigh the cons, but the cons exist. Wind energy just doesn't seem so "clean" anymore, does it?

A new idea floating around out there is wave energy. Same idea, fields of propeller like things, in the water instead of in a wind corridor. Now, unlike the desert, people like to live near the sea. I have a hard time seeing this ever coming to fruition in any area visible from the milllion dollar coastal homes. However, if it did ever get built, I fear for things like migrating whales, turtles, seabirds, and fishes with this scenario.

So, do I hate wind or even wave energy. No. As always, I just want folks to be informed, and to realize that there are costs associated with everything we use from the environment, even wind and waves. Nothing is for free. We have to be conscientious of the price, often one that is paid by something or someone else on our behalf. So, better to find ways to reduce our energy needs, making us more efficient, than to find alternative energy sources, I say.

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