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With Wind Energy Prices at a Record Low, Is the Clean Energy Revolution Upon Us?


With Wind Energy Prices at a Record Low, Is the Clean Energy Revolution Upon Us?

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

With the amount of wind-generated power in the United States reaching record highs and its cost dropping to new lows, two Department of Energy reports released Monday suggest that the renewable energy revolution might be upon us.


It does my heart good to see the forest of wind turbines along the ridge above the Columbia River in Eastern Washington where there is always a prevailing wind coming off the east side of the Cascades Mountains. They are fascinating to watch while realizing how much fossil fuel is NOT being used to create electricity put out by the turbines (along with the absence of pollutants going into the air/soil/water).


Great article! Great news. Every small town and community should have at least one windmill to provide back up power for emergency services. Every town! Heck, every town ought to have as much of their electrical needs provided by wind as they can for that matter.

It is sad to read that we also go backwards thanks to the repubs and a feckless and weak willed administration. The Australians went backwards by repealing a carbon tax that had worked for two years when a conservative prime minister was elected. A warning to Americans that republicans are perched like vultures over our political system to pick at the corpse of democracy and fatten their oligarchic bellies.

Why would our government remove a Production Tax Credit that helped produce such sterling advances in wind power use? Yet continue a direct subsidy to fossil fuel production? It is what history will call a ‘Lethal Corruption’ that ended up delaying positive measures to avert climate change. We (and the Australians) make ourselves fools who take something that works and then keep it from continuing.


Yeah, I find them to be perfectly fine aesthetically in my area - except at night where the requisite aircraft-warning strobes - all flashing in unison, light up the Allegheny Front ridgeline from Keyser almost to the N. boundary of the Dolly Sods Wilderness. Every pilot knows the ridge is there and would normally avoid it by a healthy altitude margin. It would be nice to make an exception to the FAA rules for wind turbine locations like this.

Unfortunately, there is also lots of NIMBY-type opposition to wind energy - including among others Counterpunch Mag.


Solar luminance has been between 1365.5 and 1365.5 watt/m^2 at the top of the atmosphere, varying by about one watt with the 11 year solar cycles. It has not been getting hotter on any kind of human time scale. It is very gradually getting hotter and will render the earth pretty much unsuitable for complex life in another 800 million years or so. You would not be able to notice that.


The global average for luminance at the surface of the earth is 210 W/m^2, so 1155 W/m^2 are theoretically available for driving storms and therefore wind. The take away point is that wind-derived energy is really just solar-based energy. The 210-W/m^2 factoid is useful to get people to picture that they would need a square meter to power a 100-W bulb at an assumed fifty-percent efficiency (too lazy for research today).


In WW2, Home wind chargers were produced:


Huge wind chargers are built is for corporations to be able to provide centralized energy. There is no reason why communities and homes can’t provide their own cheap wind power in a decentralized way using smaller wind chargers instead of giving a monopoly to a corporation that will charge whatever they can get away with. Liveaboard boats produce their own power with small wind chargers. These don’t seem to kill birds.


There are two caveats to the needed decentralized energy movement that are helpful to remember:

  1. The first is that when an individual becomes their own power company they (or some other technically qualified person or business) also become responsible for the expense of maintenance and up keep of that system.
    Solar or wind systems do have mechanical and/or electrical/electronic components that wear out, break down, or are damaged through everything from weather to continued usage. Spare parts and extra funds need to be set aside for the mnaintenance and upkeep of such systems by those who own them.
  2. Solar or wind systems are therefore dependent upon the businesses that design and supply the components that make them work.
    Based on the history of other manufacturing industries (everything from small appliances to automobiles) we can expect those components to be made to have to be replaced as quickly as possible through planned obsolescence in order to boost the bottom line profits of the businesses that supply them.


For some reason, I still love to see the turbines. The only worry I have is that they might cause some harm to the birds, which I dearly love.


wind is a big mistake it is ugly kills endangered birds create noise and is a health hazard when near homes also tree have been cut for this source of so called natural source of energy I know of retreats in Maine where there is noise and not very natural Noisy ugly kills large birds and health hazzard


The sun’s energy has not dramatically increased. Google it and see for yourself.


What a crock. The truth is everybody likes looking at windmills besides we don’t complain about how ugly telephone poles are (and we should…lol). People have always been captivated by watching windmills. It’s the movement that gives a sense of ‘visibility’ to the wind that powers it. The fossil fuel industry promoted this phony baloney idea that people don’t like windmills. Since when? The famous Dutch windmills? Remember them?

Electrical transmission towers hum and make noise too. Trains do and trucks do and coal fired plants spew out poisonous fumes and mercury and the smoke looks ugly too.

As for the birds (and bats btw) that is true with the older windmill designs. Newer ones have been designed specifically to correct this problem. They turn slower and produce more energy but they birds can avoid the slow moving vanes. They are not noisy. Most people have never actually been close to a windmill but believe supposedly objective youtube videos about how loud they are. Since when are people allowed that close to power generator windmills. It isn’t true anyway.

New advanced designs are correcting the problems ‘people’ supposedly complain about. How insane it is for someone to say ‘ruin the world using coal because I don’t like windmills.’ So i guess you like coal plants then because they are so pretty?


That concern is being addressed by new designs which spin slower but generate more electricity allowing the birds (and bats) to avoid the slow moving vanes.


Caveat #1 - an individual? Okay but we are talking a small town or hamlet. The electricity produced is economically valuable… a commodity that nets $$$ money. The townsfolk pay for electricity (a much lower cost electricity) and the excess (like at night) is sold back to the power grid. This revenue stream pays for maintenance and likely investing in a second windmill etc. and so forth.

Caveat #2 - What planned obsolescence? You can say that about anything and everything. If you buy some cheap version of something which is also cheaply made and will need frequent replacement, it is not planned obsolescence is is just shoddy workmanship and equally shoddy materials.

If you buy a typical windmill the manufacturer guarantees it for a certain number of years of service… say 20 or 30 years. You are not well informed about the current state of the industry.


They are there but the government is subsidizing fossil fuels (didn’t you know Exxon needs a helping hand to make the most profit that any corporation has ever made year after year. They need a tax payer supplied subsidy and tax breaks but homeowners and businesses wanting alternatives… no)

Very cool site…thanks. Isn’t it amazing that these have been available for nearly a hundred years. They have household ones that aren’t propellers but spin vertically around a central shaft like a top.


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I don’t think the atmosphere absorbs 1155 W/m2 or the Earth would be like Venus - almost all of that gets reflected back by clouds, water surfaces or the like. Most heating of air is from the ground heating. For example all diurnal temperature variation is found only in the lower couple thousand feet of air above the ground surface. I recall seeing a good “heat budget” graphic on the "Real Climate blog, (ultimately energy in = energy out) - but it might take some time to find it.


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Wind generation is 17 times safer for birds than coal generation, per KWhr, and more than twice as safe as nukes. It’s also many, many, many, many times safer for humans, amphibians, other mammals, plants, and other organisms. And that’s not even counting the effects of global warming, which will cause millions of species to die out completely if we don’t stop using fossil fuels, essentially in the next 15 years.

See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2198024