I came across an article today priding itself on the subject of wind energy subsidies in the US and why investing in them any longer would be tantamount to breaking the law, and boy does the author do it with some vigour and confidence. Unfortunately, and I really doubt I will be the only one thinking the same thing, most of what this person writes is founded on ignorance, scientific falsehoods and a basic hatred for wind energy in any of its forms.
The article, titled ‘We Must Stop Subsidising Wind Power’, which you can find in the link at the end of this post, focuses on a myriad of detrimental effects the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), a hotly debated topic currently, as it stands to be shelved come the end of 2012, with so far no hope of a successor. While there are many powerful and well-informed societies, associations and individuals lobbying for its extension, its pieces like this which seriously undermine rational thinking.
Supposedly, American wind energy, and by logical assumption, the entire industry, is unreliable, severely expensive, economically damaging and highly dangerous to the environment, seemingly to the same degree that oil and coal are; a real and direct threat to the green side of life. It is simply deemed ‘not environmentally safe’. What an absolute load.
Let’s start with the first point, wind’s unreliability and thus pointlessly impractical employment as an energy source. The crux of the argument here is that due to the natural flux in wind strength and speed, turbines are entirely dependent upon fossil-fuel based sources to prop them up (I know) and therefore the price of this is passed onto consumers like you and me. Aside from this, it isn’t helping us reduce our emissions nearly as much as we hoped.
Yes, wind is unreliable as a quantity, just like market prices for fossil fuels or the accessibility of reserves, but this hasn’t stopped wind becoming THE primary renewable energy source worldwide, demonstrating the biggest growth rates and deployment percentages of any type. Not only this, but some of the leaders of free political-thinking in regards to clean energy sources have proven this is not the issue it is made out to be. Germany for instance powers over 8% of it’s needs through wind, and has demonstrated that the apparent reliance on oil or gas for baseload on the grid is not true; wind and solar alone can power a nation if handled rationally and smartly, something the US is quickly catching onto. Only last year, the US installed almost 7GW of wind, up 31% on 2010, and could meet 10% of energy requirements in six greedy states, a hell of a lot more than most, and installation prices have also dropped, hitting just $2.1 per watt, down 10 cents on 2010.
With smarter systems, demand-response software and upgraded grids, all technology which is not only well established and on the rise but relatively cheap to put in place, the apparent issues with fluctuating wind and lulls in power can be negated almost completely. Combine this with CCGTs and solar, a nation as hungry as America can happily guzzle electricity without so much as a mention of oil, coal or shale ‘something’.