While on the campaign trail yesterday, Obama was speaking about wind energy and his support for alternative energies. He was lambasting coal produced electricity and it's negative effects on the environment including causing global warming and pollution. GL was saying Republicans don't understand wind energy. Time to go back and restate what we've been reporting for a long time about wind energy.
You may recall that we've opposed ethanol and corn based fuels because it takes more energy to produce ethanol than ethanol creates. Same is true for wind turbines. Manufacturing and building wind turbines uses fossil fuel energy; the amount of energy used from start to finish creates a huge energy deficit that cannot be overcome over the productive life of the wind turbine. With traditional power generation sources, the generators produce enough energy quickly enough to be a viable investment and overcome the amount of energy used to manufacture, build and operate the systems.
Many people think once a wind turbine is up and operating, you simply flip a switch, the wind blows and electricity starts flowing. Not so. The turbine requires a jolt of grid electricity to get the thing started. Amazingly, turbines must also be turned off when the wind speed gets too high, on average 40 mph is the threshold. What happens when the wind is calm or too slow to turn the blades, especially on larger turbines? I've seen blades turning when there was little or no wind. Here's a dirty little secret: grid energy is used to operate the turbines when there is little or no wind.
Let's not forget the negative environmental impact of wind farms. Estimation of birds killed by wind farms vary widely, with estimates ranging from 1 million to 2 million birds a year. If the low end estimate is to be believed, thats 1 million dead birds a year. Coal fired or hydro electric plants aren't killing that many birds. In California's Altamont Pass wind farm, over 100 Golden Eagles are killed each year. Some 4 thousand Bald Eagles are killed around the U.S. each year in collisions with turbines. 1 million bats are killed every year; think of all the mosquitoes and bugs those bats would have eaten. There is also conclusive evidence that the humming sounds emanating from turbines is disrupting the normal living patterns of ground wildlife as well.
So who doesn't know wind energy?