Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Wind power - still not profitable

Wind power is a favorite of green groups because it's renewable and nonpolluting. And in the right applications it's very useful. But when alternatives are readily available, usually the cost of wind power is not competitive.

Some countries are associated with wind power initiatives, such as the Netherlands. Denmark has also been particularly active with wind power - several major wind turbine manufacturers are based there and Danes have subsidized wind power for years.

But they still can't make it pay, according to this item from Tech Central Station. Here's my favorite quote from it:
Just as a footnote to all this, I looked up data on Danish electricity at America's Energy Information Administration website. Almost all Danish electricity, other than the small part deriving from wind, comes from that notoriously environmentally green source -- coal. So the Danes produce more carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour than the supposedly environmentally-hostile Americans, where only about 55% of electricity comes from coal.
Actually Americans have been using windpower for a long time too. Old Aermotor wind-driven pumps were a common site on isolated farms going back to the 1880's and are still around now. They are good for tasks like pumping water for livestock in isolated areas where steady energy delivery is not essential.

Green activists love to point out that the "true costs" of coal burning and other "non-renewable" power sources are not recognized on our utility bills, and they say that if those costs were recognized that windpower would be cost-competitive.

OK, suppose they're right. Then let them talk the public into paying more for electricity so these costs can be paid. Why don't the greens do this?

Because they're watermelons - they're green on the outside and red on the inside. They're more interested in big govt programs, more regulation, more taxes, and demonization of opponents than they are in real practical solutions to their alleged concerns. And they can't raise money without raising issues, so the bitching will never stop.

Incidentally, I'm a mechanical engineer. Energy is my business, and I can make money off it no matter how we generate it or distribute it. Wind power in particular offers the prospect of all sorts of design, operations, maintenance and other consulting business. Paying more for power is a small price for me to pay - I'll make it back many times over from the rest of you. So all of my personal financial incentives are in favor of wind power.

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