Skip to comments.The Race to Replace Fossil Fuels (Wind power "poised to become foundation of the new energy economy)
Posted on 07/04/2006 9:13:06 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SAN FRANCISCO, Jul 3 (OneWorld) - Wind power is "poised to become to become the foundation of the new energy economy," claims a new survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute.
According to the environmental group, global wind electricity-generating capacity increased by 24 percent in 2005 to 59,100 megawatts--a twelvefold increase from a decade ago, when world wind-generating capacity stood at less than 5,000 megawatts.
The report says wind power is the world's fastest-growing energy source with an average annual growth rate of 29 percent over the last ten years. In contrast, over the same time period, coal use has grown by 2.5 percent per year, nuclear power by 1.8 percent, natural gas by 2.5 percent, and oil by 1.7 percent.
"Wind power has been established as a safe, clean, cheap energy option," the Earth Policy Institute's Joseph Florence told OneWorld.
The U.S. has installed 9,100 megawatts of wind power capacity, the group says, including a record-breaking 2,400 megawatts in 2005. Chief among the reasons for the growth were advances in technology and a 1.9-cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity produced from a wind farm during the first 10 years of its operation.
"Political support is the key driver in the wind industry," Florence said. "If Congress votes to continue the production tax credit, then the future is bright. But without government support it just can't compete against traditional non-renewable technologies."
Not everyone is so bullish on wind power's ability to provide for America's energy needs, however.
Advocates of nuclear power contend that wind require too much land to power the U.S. grid. Almost half of U.S. energy currently comes from coal, while 20 percent comes from nuclear power. Nuclear industry representatives say if America is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming, nuclear power must be front and center.
"Nuclear energy has the smallest environmental footprint of any other emission-free source," the Nuclear Energy Institute's Mitch Singer told OneWorld.
Singer said to equal the current output of U.S. nuclear reactors would require putting windmills on land the size of Minnesota and covering an area equal to West Virginia with solar panels. "Then you have to depend on which way the wind is blowing or how long the sun is shining," he said.
President Bush apparently agrees. While providing modest support for wind power, the U.S. president has focused significantly more energy on promoting new nuclear power plants.
"Nuclear power helps us protect the environment," Bush said in a speech last month in front of the Limerick Generating Station outside of Philadelphia. "Nuclear power is safe. For the sake of economic security and national security, the United States must aggressively move forward with construction of nuclear power plants."
The global environmental network Greenpeace vigorously disagrees. The group believes the United States needs an energy system based on renewable energy and energy efficiency, but thinks the costs and risks inherent in the generation of nuclear power make it an unacceptable piece of the energy puzzle.
"Building enough nuclear power stations to make a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would cost trillions of dollars, create tens of thousands of tons of lethal high-level radioactive waste, contribute to further proliferation of nuclear weapons materials, and result in a Chernobyl-scale accident once every decade," the group's Web site claims.
According to the consumer rights group Public Citizen, last year's energy bill provided $13 billion in subsidies and tax breaks to the nuclear industry. The figure includes operating subsidies and money for research and development and construction of new plants.
The Nuclear Energy Institute says 14 new nuclear power plants are currently in the pipeline, mostly in the Southeast.
But the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental think tank also based in Washington D.C., thinks the nuclear industry may be headed for a meltdown.
"Renewable sources of power provide about 20 percent of the world's electricity today, more than nuclear power does," Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin wrote in the latest issue of the organization's magazine. "More importantly, they are active, growing industries, attracting over $25 billion in new investment last year.
"The generating capacity of new wind plants alone that were ordered in 2005 was triple the figure for nuclear power. And because renewable technologies are smaller scale and modular, their cost is falling rapidly as the scale of production rises. In recent months, renewable power has become one of the hottest sectors for venture capitalists looking for 'the next big thing.'"
they are out of their minds
They turn them off so they won't hurt the birdies!
Wind power is good. With a good battery storage set up an average home can be totally self sufficient. Especially in rural areas.
Nuclear power is ok as well but nobody wants the waste. Waste is not just the spent rods, but the entire plant that has to be disassembled.
A good energy plan utilizes many forms of energy production. Being dependent on one or two types of power generation is risky.
The enviro-NAZI have forced them to be shut down in most locations, claiming that they are killing raptors. And that is what makes this article a real laugh; the wackos don't know what they are doing these days.
I hope wind and solar take off big time. Whatever it takes to get these prices down.
With an operating efficiency of maybe 50% you get 5k megawatts. About equivalent to 5 nuclear plants. We have over 100 now and will soon (finally) start increasing the number in addition to increasing the output of the existing reactors which are averaging about 90% output even considering the down time for refueling.
Some do, some don't. The goal is not to supply more power but to reduce the amount we use.
Pardon me! Not everywhere has sufficient wind, so not everyone can set up a wind generator. So utilize the wind in areas where wind is sufficient, and feed the power into the grid. Utilize coal where coal is in good supply. Use solar where the sun shines consistently.
Use nukes if people will let us build them again.
Use hydro where the water flows.
Thats why my last statement of the post said that a good energy plan utilizes more than one or two sources.
Ok Mr Engineer. What is your choice of energy production since hot air has been ruled out?
But we'd still have to wear a chlothes pin on our noses :o)
The donkey looks about ready to die, and I'm thinking about selling the cimmerian kid to a guy that trains gladiators...
What is this Nuclear you speak of ??? ;o)
I think in the future with the latest use on Nano tech into solar panel cells, there is going to be a 'bright' future for wind and solar.
I didn't make the proposal. I just posted a positive bump for alternatives. There is no need to have all energy produced from one source, or even two. You apparantly have had some first hand experience with wind power, and your conclusion is that wind power and battery storage are not capable of sustaining a house exclusively. And that is true when we figure in current lifestyle requirements.
I remember hearing of my grandfather's resistance to hooking on to the REA when rural electricity was made available. He didn't think it was needed.
They had a winpower generator that charged a battery so they could listen to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. As the battery ran down they moved closer to the radio so they could hear. When the battery ran down, they turned out the kerosine lantern and went to bed, as my Father has told many times. They finally hooked on to the REA at the urging of their neighbors. Then came electric lights and everything else that followed like television and refrigerators and electric mixers and toasters.
I think if for some reason America had a crisis and suddenly had to revert to basic survival, a huge majority of people could not deal with it. With our standard of living, most have lost the skills of basic survival.
Solar hot water panels are much more of an energy saver than solar electricity. A huge amount of household energy is used just in maintaining hot water. But solar electric panels are much improved, as is battery technology. Just switching our lighting over to alternatives is a substantial reduction in the overall requirements of the grid. Yes there is a substantial investment involved. Not unlike buying a hybrid car. When gas hits $4 a gallon this fall with the first hurricane, that investment will look pretty good. SAme with other alternatives. We are going to be forced to make changes, and nothing is going to be cheap or easy.
Unfortunately, people have to be hooked to the grid. It is a lifestyle issue. I certainly enjoy my standard of living. But I know what basics, if the need be, can be brought out in a time of need.
As far as solving transportation issues without using fossil fuel, namely oil, I think the horse and buggy came well before the automobile! LOL! And there are bicycles. Go to Asia or Indonesia and much of the basic transportation needs are met by bicycles. If they have to travel further for some reason, they use mass transit. Few average people own automobiles.
Not saying we should go back to the 18th century, but lifestyle has a lot of bearing on how much energy we really need.
Windpower and ...
The Altamont project is actually a top secret DARPA effort to counter a slowing in the earth's rotation.
Due to friction, the earth is constantly losing angular momentum, so the government installed groups of propellers at various locations, camouflaging them as "wind turbines". Whenever the planet slows down past a certain point, the propellers are engaged, the planet's spin is restored, and the propellers are shut off until next time.
This is all part of the US effort against global warming, because as everybody knows, longer days are hotter, so keeping the days shorter means a cooler planet.
It used to be that there was a Hemi on the equator to do this work, but what with fuel costs being what they are nowadays, nuclear powered prop jobs are more economical than a gasoline powered solution.