Gone With The Wind

Posted by Joe Lucas at 2:36 pm, February 29, 2008

In the past, when I’ve pointed out the problem of an overly optimistic
reliance on intermittent power resources like wind, some of you have
suggested that I’m bashing wind power.

I’m not.

I support wind and other renewables, and I’ve said many times that
we’re going to need all of our available domestic energy resources to
help meet our nation’s growing energy demands. But for those who think
wind or solar can replace coal and other fuels used to meet base load
power demand, I think it’s worth pointing out what happened this week
in Texas.

If you haven’t heard, part of the electricity grid in Texas had to
cut power to some offices and factories on Wednesday when there simply
wasn’t enough of a breeze to for the wind turbines to generate energy.

As the Wall Street Journal writes: “the state is coming to grips with one of wind power’s biggest problems: the power flows only when the wind blows.”

As we have noted before, wind power is great, but it can perform only
when conditions are just right. That’s why it can help out at times but
cannot be relied upon for 24/7 power. Coal is different – it can be
used to generate electricity regardless of whether there is enough

So the lesson to be learned is that this isn’t a choice between coal
(and other traditional energy resources) or renewables (wind and solar)
– it is a matter of using both.


One Response to “Gone With The Wind”

  1. Luke Hamilton says:

    I still think that with both wind, solar and hydroelectric we can easily meet Americas growing energy demands. Thinking big: A 24 square mile solar farm in new mexico, arizona or Nevada would provide enough energy to power the entire United States.
    Hmmmm? Besides the initial environmental problems associated with 24 square miles of desert construction, solar sounds like a viable alternative to me. :)