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Lester Brown of +Earth Policy Institute thinks that wind power will lead the way to a clean energy economy. 
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josh simpson's profile photoAndrew Ragland's profile photoJeff McIntire-strasburg's profile photoRodney Willett's profile photo
7 comments
 
Still don't see how we get around the problem of needing to have standby generation or when the wind stops blowing. 
 
Does that take into account the impact on the aviary population? My impression is that this has had profound consequences on birds but I may not be well informed.
 
Rodney - as I understand Dr. Brown's proposal, the combination of more wind farms (because the wind won't stop blowing everywhere at once), and smarter transition infrastructure address these issues. But I think he's promoting wind as the main energy source, not as the only one.

Josh - Developers generally do take this into account now - they didn't always, unfortunately. But, even still, the number of birds that die from wind turbines is miniscule.
 
You never want to promote any energy source as the only one. Our world is too fragile to rely on a single source of anything. Also, the number of birds that would die from turbine-related injuries would not only be miniscule, but would be vanishingly small compared to the number of deaths per year currently happening from coal and its side effects. Hundreds of people in Europe die every year from respiratory ailments and other maladies directly attributable to the burning of coal for fuel. Google for it if you don't believe me.
 
Jeff: I take your point but is that actually true of a fairly small island such as the UK?

Andrew: bad practice coal fired situations are terrible. We all know that and few now advocate their use. There are ways of incinerating things (such as coal) without ill effects although some of the power generated has to be used in-plant to ensure there is no air pollution. You are right about 'one source' and that should never be forgotten. However, in the UK we should be looking to be power self-sufficient. Turning off the taps or throwing a switch is almost as effective as an invasion and at the moment we are very vulnerable. You can claim that all our neighbours are benign. Hmm. Will that be true if/when power production is insufficient to meet demand?

Can we please forget injuries to birds - I have seen a couple of rooks 'playing' with a wind turbine. And can we forget what they look like - that is a subjective judgement (I like watching them - some people hate them) but can we also stop chasing what may be a chimera: wind power. By the time you look at the ecological cost and CO2 emissions from 'cradle to grave' of wind turbines and the required infrastructure to get the power to the grid, you have to ask: are they really so clever?
 
Rodney - I can't say, though I definitely was thinking of the US in my response.
 
Two essentials if wind power is to be really useful. First it must cover an area which ensures at least a reasonable amount of wind in some part at all times. Second these areas have to be connected by a low loss grid (which is not quite as easy as it sounds). We have windfarms in the south west of England that have to be shut down in part when they reach about 50% of design output simply because the cables between these farms and the grid cannot carry that amount of power. How stupid is that?
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