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Embrace Wind Energy or Drown

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A new Siemens wind energy project in west Texas and eastern New Mexico will produce 324 megawatts of energy, enough to fuel 180,000 American households. That’s a lot of energy. This is the kind of wind energy investment we need from all quarters to fight against climate change without completely decimating our quality of life. You’d think Republicans would join in this fight, in no small part because there’s a lot of money to be made in wind energy. But, as per the norm in the Republican Party, Donald Trump continues to deny the existence of human-caused climate change, calling it “bullshit.” Meanwhile, Trump’s properties in Florida will be underwater in the next few decades. You’d think the insurance rates would get Florida-property owning elites to care, if nothing else. But ideology trumps reality once again.

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  • Nobdy

    When I was a kid my father told me that cartoonishly evil bad guys didn’t exist and everyone was a mix of good and bad.

    There is an entire political party made up of people willing to let humanity die out or at least be thrown into crisis just because they don’t like how windmills look and don’t want to admit liberals were right.

    More proof that rather than living in a computer simulation like Elon Musk thinks we are in fact in a broadly drawn political satire.

    • Gregor Sansa

      This is going OT, but I’m the only person I’ve ever known who thinks the “we must live in a sim, because eventually computers will be so powerful that sims will be cheap” idea is wrong for an interesting reason. Most people who aren’t Believers think it’s just sophomorically wrong, or at most that it’s wrong because it extrapolates Moore’s Law too far. Which it does, but that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that even if there are trillions of sims for every real universe, it’s still true that there are googolplexes of quantum branchings (“many worlds”) in that one universe, so the sims still lose.

      This is my theory, which is mine.

      • The Temporary Name

        it extrapolates Moore’s Law too far.

        A simulated law of course.

      • delazeur

        Well, that assumes that the many-worlds interpretation is true, which I think is a bigger leap than the pro-sim arguments.

        • Gregor Sansa

          I wouldn’t say so. Just saying “many worlds” sounds outlandish, but actually it’s perfectly normal; you have to consider multiple histories in order to do any quantum mechanical calculation at all. It would be much stranger if all those alternate histories existed but then suddenly “collapsed” as soon as the universe “makes up its mind”. That’s the main alternative to many universes (the “Copenhagen interpretation”) and the “collapse” operator is totally unlike any other part of physics. (Some people say that they have interpretations of QM that are neither Copenhagen nor many-worlds, but whenever I’ve tried to look into any of those, they seem to me to be equivalent to one or the other with slightly different words.)

          • delazeur
          • Pseudonym

            But you can’t discount the possibility that the simulation that is our universe is programmed to make the many-worlds interpretation of QM look plausible (if not compelling) precisely in order to convince you that you’re probably not inside a simulation.

      • Grumpy

        Aren’t there sims in a fraction of each set of branches? Or is this that problem where the average number of objects belonging to a particular category drops to zero across many universes (I don’t have the David Deutsch book in front of me but I read something like this)

        • Gregor Sansa

          The whole point of a computer algorithm is that it is (at least mostly) deterministic. So yes, there are sims in many branches, but if large numbers of them are running the same program, they’ll get the same results, and from the inside that will feel like just one universe. It’s like a novel; it’s only one story, no matter how many times you read it.

          • Matt McIrvin

            If the sims are accurate enough that we can’t tell whether we’re in one, then either the sims are nondeterministic, or the sims themselves are somehow capable of incorporating trillions of simulated quantum branches (maybe because they are running on quantum computers), in which case your counting argument doesn’t work.

      • UserGoogol

        My metaphysical point of view is that there’s not really a difference between being a simulated world and the real thing. I mean, what’s the difference between our world being a simulation inside another world, and there being another world which contains a simulation which merely happens to coincide with our own? If there are infinite possible realities, then you’d expect things to go in all sorts of twisted directions: since this happens outside of space and time there’s no particular reason for things to be nicely ordered. A universe could contain simulations of itself. (I mean it already does, we just need ones sophisticated enough to have the simulated people inside speculate about their own simulated existence.)

        Of course, you might think there’s a more practical way of looking at it: if our universe is a simulation we might expect that to manifest itself in some way. Maybe the simulation will get turned off, or whatever. That would be important. But there’s no real way to make that extrapolation in a useful way. How the hell are we supposed to know what the “real” universe is like from our own simulated vantage point? And conversely if we are a “real” universe our own knowledge is limited. Maybe our own universe will suddenly shut off on its own, inductive reasoning can’t really disprove the possibility of sudden changes of the laws of physics like that, we can just say it seems like that hasn’t happened so far.

        Talk about alternate universes generally assumes that the other universes are more or less like our own, at least at the basic level of following similar laws of physics. And when you limit yourself to quantum physics and the many worlds interpretation yeah that’s a reasonable extrapolation. But once you get into more creative metaphysical territory, we really have no basis to be all that confident about what we’d expect other universes to be like. The totality of all possible existences in the Library of Babel.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Well I became suddenly aware in the mid-80s of a number of songs that had been big hits in the late 60s/early 70s (when I was listening to the radio avidly), that I’d no memory of ever hearing before. So my tentative conclusion is that a nuclear war started in 84/85, and the game got reloaded from reboot and restarted

    • so-in-so

      Has nothing to do with how windmills look. If windmill makers had the lobbying resources of fossil fuel producers we would be legally required to have a windmill in every yard by now.

      Plus, if liberals opposed windmills.

      • Warren Terra

        Liberals often oppose windmills, especially when the windmills will spoil the view from their expensive beachfront property.

        There are also issues with migratory birds.

        • Fake Irishman

          The first is more a general NIMBY problem (though many NIMBYs are liberal)

          As for birds, it’s real, but I believe tall buildings are a much greater risk. (also, newer turbines spin at slower rates, have radar to shut rotors down when a flock approaches and have solid bases instead of latticed ones, that eliminate the problems of nesting which increased risks)

          No links, because I’m feeling really lazy right now.

          • Dilan Esper

            Yeah, I don’t blame liberals specifically for being NIMBY’s.

            But I do think NIMBYism is a very anti-liberal attitude and should be seen as one. It’s basically “my little slice of property rights is more important than anything that might do something for the common good”.

            And for that reason, for instance, I thought the Kennedys deserved all the bad publicity they got for opposing Cape Wind. I just think we should give the same sort of bad publicity conservatives block projects on similar grounds; the hypocrisy is the least important aspect of this.

            • I thought the Kennedys deserved all the bad publicity they got for opposing Cape Wind

              alongside a Koch brother. Altogether a disgusting episode.

        • Fake Irishman

          The opposition is general NIMBYism, some of which I concede are liberals (see Kennedy, Ted and Cape Wind)

          Birds are a problem, but I believe that tall buildings lit up at night are much greater problems. Also, modern turbine rotors are larger so they spin slower, radar coordinates to shut down a field when a flock flies through, and modern turbine bases are solid, not latticed, which removes the problem of nesting birds.

          No links, because I’m feeling lazy. But feel free to disagree loudly or contradict. Maybe I’ll learn something.

          • Derelict

            NIMBY? Yeah, sorta. Windmills are very noisy, and even the most modern ones generate much unwanted noise. People do not want these things in their backyards because the noise renders the house unlivable. It’s great that we’re saving the planet, but many people object to having their only real investment turned worthless because the line of windmills a quarter mile away renders the place uninhabitable and thus unsaleable.

            And as far as “it destroys my view,” that is a real problem. Views are valuable–for some places, the view is a substantial part of the value of the land or home. I live in Vermont where wind is being pushed hard. About all we have is tourism, and that depends on beautiful vistas of forested mountains. Putting windmills along all the ridges would generate lots of electricity–and destroy one of the pillars of the economy here. That, to my mind, makes windmills an extractive industry on a par with mountaintop mining. Only worse because it produces no long-term jobs while destroying the few businesses in the area.

            • Dilan Esper

              You are dead wrong on both issues.

              First, just because there is noise doesn’t mean a house is uninhabitable. I grew up under the flight path to a fairly important airport. I heard aircraft noise all day from my parents’ house. It didn’t make it unliveable (I very much liked living there, as did my parents and others on the blocK), and I assure you that their house is not unsaleable either. It’s on a block with some very valuable houses.

              Second, I really don’t give a shit about views FROM HOUSES. If there’s a view that is particularly important for tourism reasons, make it a state park. That’s fine. But what you get to look out the window and see from your house? I don’t give a shit. And I wouldn’t give a shit even if it reduced your property values. Your aesthetic preferences do not outweigh saving the planet.

              • Derelict

                Get out of the basement more, Dilan. Maybe read a bit about what’s happened in places in the Northeast that have had turbines installed.

                But I guess people’s personal experience just don’t mean as much as what you’d like to imagine life is like.

                • Dilan Esper

                  If someone’s house is HONESTLY unliveable, the government should do the right thing and acquire it by eminent domain and compensate the owner.

                  That’s it, though. Go live somewhere else. Don’t destroy the planet to preserve the value of someone’s house.

  • upstate_cyclist

    If you can make a cool mint off the property now, who cares if it will be “under water” in multiple respects in 20 years.

    Ideology matters a lot in this sort of situation but you can’t count out short-term greed as a driving factor too.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Well, they also have a hedge. Just like the Wall Street grifters avoided the crash through repackaging of all those bad mortgages as AAA REITs and selling them off, all of the owners of those Florida properties will have fully squeezed every dollar out of them before saddling them up with massive debt and having the ownership company declare bankruptcy.

    • Warren Terra

      For Trump, owning or putting his name on beachfront properties helps him look rich and successful. He will be underground in 20 years, how much do you think he cares what properties will be underwater?

      • so-in-so

        One of his kids my say “uh, Dad…”.

        I’m sure they learned the “stick someone else with the problem” method, so they expect to do alright. Buy up that future beach front property in the Georgia foot hills while its cheap!

  • upstate_cyclist

    Speaking of water, isn’t the American southwest running out of it?

    • advocatethis

      Yes, yes it is…hey!, couldn’t we just tilt the continent to get some of that Florida water to the southwest?

      (Yes, that’s crazy, but is it really any worse than Republican “ideas” surrounding these things?)

      • ArchTeryx

        Unfortunately, what you get would be a giant pile of saltwater. Better get to work on those inland desalinators!

      • upstate_cyclist

        You won’t be laughing when those same extraction companies are piping that sweet dihydrogen-monoxide 2000 miles so as to keep Phoenix and LA from drying up like prunes.

        • Pseudonym

          It’s not so much Phoenix and LA that are going to dry up as it is the prune growers in the Central Valley.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Of course it is. But Republican developers and their employees – the people they pay off to fill local town boards and county commissioner positions and thus approve their developments – don’t give a flying crap because that is SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM. Therefore major developments keep getting built and people keep moving in.

      Even here in Colorado we all know the aquifer is running out but our population in the area that relies on the aquifer is growing as fast as it ever has. And we’ve got Democratic leaders.

      • The West has always assumed the federal government will solve its water problems in the end, even as westerners often rail against the government.

        • NonyNony

          I feel that in general you can delete the word “water” from that statement and have something that is almost universally true.

        • FMguru

          Here in California, the agricultural sector uses 80% of the state’s fresh water (in service of something like 2% of the state’s GNP) and most of it is wasted, either growing export crops that are hugely water-inefficient, or simply spilled and evaporated away by obsolete irrigation systems (no reason to pay to conserve water when you get it at massively below-market prices). Cali’s water issues would clear right up with just a few tweaks to the subsidy arrangements for farms.

          • upstate_cyclist

            Because there is no multi-drought in California that is likely to get worse over the next year at the minimum?

          • Stag Party Palin

            FMGuru is correct. Another way of thinking about it is that 39 million people live and use water in California, but the Ag Biz uses as much water as another 156 million people.

      • so-in-so

        Good point! Not only does Florida have to worry about sea level rise and drainage, but the aquifer from which their fresh water comes is subject to salt water intrusion if they a: keep draining it and b: don’t do something about rising sea levels.

        Even if we could maintain status quo, I bet most of the state is pretty screwed.

        • Fake Irishman

          Michael Grunwald, quietly one of the best journalists in the country, has been ranting about this very problem for more than a decade in Slate, Time, Politico and a wonderful book called the Swamp. No one has listened to him though.

    • rachelmap

      Didn’t Ann Coulter say something about there being no fresh water shortage because rain and snow fall from the sky?

  • Or you could do as the NC legislature did a few years ago and pass a bill that allowed insurance companies to spread the actuarial risk accumulating in coastal areas to other areas of the state.
    So now everybody gets to pay higher rates so we can keep rebuilding roads and infrastructure for those along the coast – of course it helped that several of the politicians (unfortunately in both parties) had business interests and vacation homes that were affected.
    Then again our brilliant legislature also decided that the best way to combat rising sea levels was to legislate against using newer data in making decisions in coastal areas – because, of course none of it was really happening.

    • ArchTeryx

      That’ll work until the point where not one property in NC is affordably insurable. I’m quite sure the rest of Red and Blue America will be happy to subsidize 100% of the insurance premiums for an entire state.

      No?

  • Calming Influence

    Any property owner in south Florida has a huuuuge incentive to deny climate related sea level rise, at least until after they’ve unloaded their properties onto unsuspecting losers.

  • Todd

    I remember hearing concerns when wind energy began to be installed in the US that too much of it might adversely affect normal wind/weather patterns (along with being yet another hazard to birds).

    Was all of that just petroleum industry lobby tripe, or was there something to it, with the upshot being that it is still worth it because of the overall carbon reductions?

    • The bird thing is definitely an issue, although in terms to total dead, it pales compared to other ways we kill birds, such as through habitat loss, pollution, and glass buildings.

      • advocatethis

        To say nothing of oil and other chemical spills and air pollution.

        • Fake Irishman

          …and the domesticated cat and road building.

          • Gregor Sansa

            Cat building: just don’t.

            • Ahuitzotl

              there’s nothing like having a 4 story brownstone jump into your lap

      • Brian

        Or cats

    • JustRuss

      I’m not sure what percentage of the earth’s wind we’re harvesting for energy,but it has to be an infinitesimal fraction. And as long as the sun shines and the earth rotates,it’s entirely renewable. If we somehow take too much out of the system, shut down some windmills and we’ll be back to normal in no time, compared to centuries to re-sequester atmospheric carbon.

      • efgoldman

        If we somehow take too much out of the system, shut down some windmills

        If any of the sharp scientists who work for Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell etc, had even a corner of a “then the magic happens” study or formula that shows a limited supply of wind, they’d have bought up all the rights already.

  • The Temporary Name

    You’d think Republicans would join in this fight, in no small part because there’s a lot of money to be made in wind energy.

    They’ll join in the money-making side, just not in the talking-about-it side.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    Speaking of the Rage Tribble:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/13/donald-trump-lawsuit-sam-nunberg-leaked-information

    Donald Trump is suing former top aide Sam Nunberg for $10m in back and forth litigation, only days before the presumptive GOP nominee will announce his running mate.

    Nunberg, who left the campaign in August 2015 amid internal conflict, was sued by Trump in arbitration proceedings on 28 May over claims that he breached confidentiality.

    The Republican operative, who after leaving Trump’s campaign announced he would support Ted Cruz, countersued on Wednesday in New York county supreme court, alleging that Trump was trying to silence him as part of a vendetta and trying to force proceedings into arbitration to shield “the ridiculous nature of the Trump campaign’s irrational and vindictive assault against me”.

    In an affidavit obtained by the Guardian, Nunberg alleges the suit “is retaliation for my change of political opinion and the free exercise of my first amendment right to abandon my political backing of Mr Trump and to endorse and associate with US senator Ted Cruz publicly”.

    • Warren Terra

      There’s someone claiming on Twitter that the lawsuit can’t proceed as the plaintiff has no standing, not being a registered entity where the suit was filed. I’m neither a lawyer nor a registrar of corporations, I only pass these things on.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        That would be such a Trumpanderthal finale, wouldn’t it? Full of sound and fury…

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          Speaking of Trump Associates and lawsuits:

          In related news: Trump’s Bestest NFL Buddy is a bit deflated today – the Second Circuit Court Of Appeals refused to rehear his suspension case.

          Apparently it all comes down to the Supremes, specifically Notorious RBG.

  • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

    Erik,

    “Embrace Wind Energy or Drown”

    Isn’t that a “Fox News headline” level of exaggeration? Estimates using RCP8.5, the worst of the four scenarios for climate change in the IPCC’s AR5 report, predict 21st century global mean sea level rises of 50-100 cm (the 15-83rd percentiles). Other studies give similar predictions.

    While costly, even in this horrific scenario we’re not going to “drown”. For more information see table 2 in Kopp (2016).

    The RCP8.5 scenario is a useful warning of what might happen if we get unlucky, the assumptions needed to get there are unlikely — and growing more so, such as technological stagnation and unusually rapid population growth (i.e., Africa’s fertility does not collapse, as has everybody else’s as they develop).

    However tempting, I doubt that copying the Right’s tactics will help us.

    • upstate_cyclist

      Miami Beach already spends a few days a month flooded with sea water due to rising seas and high tides. At least for coastal Florida, “or drown” doesn’t seem too hyperbolic given the history of nasty rain based storm thingies that pass by the peninsula this time of year.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Florida’s problem is compounded by the fact that it is essentially built on limestone, with substantial aquifers and cave systems under the surface – and this means that the sea doesn’t have to worry about such things as walls and defences – it can just go underneath and rise up from below. If there is a way to stop Florida from turning into a series of squabbling islands run by snowbird pirate clans, I’d be interested to hear about it.

        • so-in-so

          The movie and gaming rights will be sweet, however.

        • Fake Irishman

          Not to mention that killing the Mangroves in the Everglades removes a large barrier to flooding and sea level rise.

          • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

            Irishman,

            Yes. So many of our problems result from awful stewardship of our land and waters. Misuse, overuse, pollution, etc.

        • Morat

          And once the aquifer is undrinkable and all that underground electrical equipment and such is regularly getting ruined, people will just leave. A lot of vulnerable people are going to be left holding the bag on some worthless property, but they’ll pack up and go.

          New Orleans could be saved but probably won’t be. Miami is just doomed.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Not just everybody will pack up and go. Property values will go down, poor people will move in, and then all the problems of our new, aquatic Detroit will be smeared as a cause by Those People, if you know what I mean.

    • Warren Terra

      Higher mean sea levels mean the freakish events – hurricane strikes, for example – will drown a lot of people.

      Also: Hyperbole Is Always Acceptable.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Hyperbole is the irredeemable basis of American social institutions, just as God and the Founding Twenty-somethings intended!

        • efgoldman

          The Hyper Bowl is the first of the two weeks leading up to the NFL Champeenship game with the Roman numerals.

      • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

        Warren,

        “Hyperbole Is Always Acceptable.”

        The mantra of Fox News. They’ll be glad to hear you agree with them.

        More evidence there is no reality-based community in America. Just feuding tribes.

        • Ahuitzotl

          as he said, hyperbole is always acceptable.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      It’s not much of an exaggeration for people who live in places like Kiribati, who are pretty much screwed no matter what, given the level of inaction we’ve seen on climate change so far.

      • Ahuitzotl

        fortunately they’ll all be invited to immigrate to the US, of course

    • Gregor Sansa

      Sea level rise has consistently beaten the models. Understanding glacier dynamics is hard; tiny amounts of water can make a huge difference to flow.

      Also, the US east coast from DC to Boston will, for various technical reasons involving gravity and ocean currents, get significantly more sea level rise than the global average.

      The street outside this house is 9 feet above sea level. I believe that there’s a real chance (double digit percentages) that within my daughter’s lifetime it will be below a storm surge/high tide level; protectable but not without effort.

  • MyOhMy

    “A new Siemens wind energy project in west Texas and eastern New Mexico will produce 324 megawatts of energy, enough to fuel 180,000 American households. That’s a lot of energy.”

    Arg. A watt is a unit of power, not energy. And the 324 megawatts mentioned is peak “installed capacity”, not the average output taking into account variable wind conditions. If you wanted to rework the statement to make a minimal amount of sense, it might be something like “At maximum output, the project could provide the average power requirement of 180,000 homes.” Even that would be leaving out some pretty significant details but it would be a start.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      A watt is a unit of power, not energy.

      I’ve got a Mr J.J. Watt on the line and he seems pretty high-energy to me.

    • FMguru

      I long ago gave up trying to parse energy statistics being reported in the general press.

      Still, this is excellent news, and will hopefully lead to further development of the Texas/Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska region as a nearly perfect place for windmill farms. Wind technology is getting increasingly cheap and large scale (lagging PV solar, but not by much) and costs and deployment rates for both technologies have been blowing past even the most optimistic estimates for the last fifteen years. Storage technology is advancing too, just not as quickly.

      The last coal plant in the US has probably already been built, and the last one in the world will probably be built by 2030. Renewable energy costs just keep getting lower and lower (returns to scale plus ongoing technological breakthroughs). I’m not optimistic about much, these days, but I am pretty sure that cheap, clean electricity will have replaced most fossil fuels by 2050.

      Cheap electricity also solves a ton of other resource problems. Electricity + seawater = desalinated water for drinking and industry and agriculture. Electricity + water = clean-burning hydrogen for fuel cells and as a liquid fuel replacement. Electricity + plasma arc welders = transformation of hazardous waste into harmless ash on an industrial scale. And so on. So long as the worst feedback-loop predictions about global warming (clathrates, permafrost outgassing, etc.) don’t come true, we should make it through the end of the 21st century in pretty good shape.

      • postmodulator

        Electricity + water = clean-burning hydrogen for fuel cells and as a liquid fuel replacement.

        I have been kind of expecting fuel cells plus a bunch of new nuke plants to be the fix that lets America continue doing the whole “urban sprawl” thing. I’d be happy to find that it is actually solar and wind that do it instead.

      • FMguru

        Also: cheap electricity + CO2 sequestration technology = pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and reversing global warming. That’s a bit of a ways off, though.

        And, although I share the blog’s concern about AI and smart robots replacing humans for doing most jobs, I have to say I’m excited for what smart/cheap/sensor-laden robots could do for processing garbage and other streams of waste. Imagine if every scrap of trash you threw away was analyzed, tagged, and sent off to the right place for recycling and reprocessing. Every electronic gimcrack that gets tossed is disassembled with all the metal and rare-earths recovered. Every plastic thing is melted down back into its base stock (which will be particularly useful if 3D printing catches on in the way some people think it will). Imagine if 80-90% of the waste stream from households and industry and commercial establishments got reprocessed back as inputs, as opposed to the 5% or so that gets recycled today.

      • Matt McIrvin

        There are going to be mass migrations form the tropics. That alone has the potential to drive us to fascism and global genocidal war. The climate doesn’t have to kill us directly; it can make us kill each other.

  • gogiggs

    Serious, but possibly stupid, question: why aren’t we doing something with tides?
    Absurdly vast amounts of water are being moved by absolutely free forces on a known schedule. So, what are the reasons that make using this for power generation impractical? I’m sure there are some, because I’m not drunk enough to think I’m the first person to think of this, but I am ignorant enough to not know what those reasons are.

    • DrS

      Tidal power exists.

      Should we really be slowing down the earth’s rotation though?

      • Gregor Sansa

        It’s slowing down anyway.

        • DrS

          This will accelerate that slow down process.

          • DrS

            (by an extremely small amount, I just wanted to write that last sentence)

            • ExpatChad

              But you’re from Missoula.

              (I used to work for KGVO, and I know

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Probably because O’Reilly declared tides as unknowable forces of God, so we can’t meddle with them without getting smited (smitten just sounds wrong!)

      OMG, I just googled Bill O’ and found out he’s younger than me, chronologically if not mentally, where he comes across as the angry guy shouting at the kids on his lawn.

    • Stan Gable

      I’ll go with a combination of super high installation costs + corrosive effects of saltwater.

      • Gregor Sansa

        The San Francisco Bay is one of the best places in the world for this. It would be economically feasible but getting the rights is a mess.

    • runsinbackground

      I have been told (by a friend who doesn’t necessarily know what he’s talking about) that it was tried in Norway, but abandoned when it was discovered that the turbines basically turn krill into an inedible cloud of floating body parts, which in turn starves out any larger animals living in that particular fjord.

    • Stag Party Palin

      Tidal power has engineering problems. The ocean environment is really tough on machines and so far it just is not economical. Efforts continue, but no winners yet.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    Does anyone else find these huge windmills to be mesmerizing? I could watch them all day, though fortunately there’s none nearby to tempt me.

  • Fake Irishman

    Also worth pointing out that all these turbines, rotors and component parts are being produced by reasonably well-compensated workers in Iowa and Kansas. The reason why those jobs exist is because of tax credits and grants provided in the American Recovery Act of 2009 pulled the U.S. renewable industry out of a recession-induced tailspin.

    Thanks Obama!

    • BiloSagdiyev

      http://www.ge.com/news/company-information/vietnam

      GE is building some in Vietnam. (And not just for export, Vietnam is interested in greener energy.)

      Geezis, people, does it take communist party economic planners to realize that you pay up front, they pay for themselves, and then comes the free energy?

  • twbb

    Eh, the way mass balance works, it’s likely we’re at the embrace wind energy and drown stage of things.

  • Mart

    I used to consult at the Siemens blade facility in Iowa and the turbine facility in Kansas. They moved into an abandoned truck trailer facility in Iowa and have not stopped expanding since. (A lot of the construction due to the blades getting longer and longer resulting in bumping the buildings out. Forget exact number of jobs, but in Iowa, depending on tax credits believe around 400 good paying jobs. There are fiberglass dust exposures, and chemical reaction fumes from fiberglass curing (although no longer use MEK a bad one). Siemens is best of Safety and Health class, with these exposures well controlled through venting and PPE. Turbine plant was a green field project.

    Blades are awesome. One piece of fiberglass – up to 59 meters long and about 3 meter diameter at the base. (Last I heard 75 meter blades are used off-shore.) All sorts of improvements over the years, bend in windstorms so they do not over-speed/blow off. Ridges to improve blade speed in low wind. Etc.

    As for killing birds – there is some impact, but as others referenced, much less impact than destroying habitat to dig up coal, or keeping the claws on your sweet little kitty. A lot of the wind power is ugly, noisy and kills birds came from Koch think tanks demanding that subsidies go to extraction not wind. Coal plants are ugly, noisy and kill birds too; with the added benefit of spewing all kinds of poisons into the ground and air.

    The wind generators are normally 2.3 MW, one on each stand. The 324 MW farm mentioned is on the small side with 140 towers. For reference, a good sized wind farm is bigger than 500 MW. A giant wind farm would have about 1,000 MW capacity. China is building a wind farm with planned 20,000 MW capacity by 2020. That is a lot of real estate. A good sized coal plant is 2,000 MW. Giant over 4,000 MW.

    Yes part of the 2009 stimulus was to bring transmission lines out into the middle of nowhere Texas where there is literally nothing but wind. Makes sense to convert the wind to electricity, and ship to Dallas and Houston. Texas is now the No.1 wind generator in the country.

    There are problems with wind generation other than birds. Turbine oil fires way up in the sky, sometimes leading to fiberglass blade fires. Several times big chunks of blades have sheared off, and land a half mile or so down the road. OTOH – coal plants have massive coal dust explosions, coal trucks crash, and 400 MW coal fired generator units have oil fires as well.

    Realize rambling, but many utilities are switching from coal to natural gas if an adequate sized pipeline is nearby. There are several reasons. Fracking has killed coal due to influx of cheap natural gas. Utilities and co-gen plants normally have to be able to house at least 100 coal cars on site, or the rail company adds all kinds of tolling fees. Ash is not as easy as it used to be to dump. An EPA mandated sulfur scrubber on a middle sized coal plant runs about $400M. Powder River Basin coal is low sulfur, but hard to handle, susceptible to spontaneous ignition.

    Finally – No Nukes. Christ-sakes – Three Mile, Chernobyl, Fukushima. We will add to this list. Nuke plants are industrial facilities. Budgets get cut. Maintenance staff is reduced. Inspection, testing, and maintenance schedules are cut back. Key employees retire. Management turns over. Natural Catastrophes blow, flood, and shake. Just a horrible idea to have these things around us. I’d rather take my chances with climate change.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    In related news, the draft of the GOP platform reads:

    “The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.”

    Christ, what a bunch of assholes.

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