By Paul Driessen
President Obama and a chorus of environmentalists, politicians,
corporate executives and bureaucrats are perennially bullish on wind
power as the bellwether of our “clean energy economy of the future.”
In reality, wind energy may well be the least sustainable and least
eco-friendly of all electricity options. Its shortcomings are legion,
but the biggest ones can be grouped into eight categories.
Land. As American humorist and philosopher Will Rogers
observed, “They ain’t making any more of it.” Wind turbine installations
impact vast amounts of land, far more than traditional power plants.
Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant generates 3,750 megwatts of
electricity from a 4,000-acre site. The 600-MW John Turk
ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Arkansas covers part of
2,900 acres; two 600-MW coal-fired units in India use just 600 acres.
Gas-fired units like Calpine’s 560-MW Fox Energy Center in Wisconsin
require several hundred acres. All generate reliable power 90-95 percent
of the year.
By contrast, the 600-MW Fowler Ridge wind installation (355 turbines)
spans 50,000 acres of farm country along Indiana’s I-65 corridor. The
782-MW Roscoe project in Texas (627 turbines) sprawls across 100,000
acres. Oregon’s Shepherds Flat project (338 gigantic 2.5 MW turbines)
covers nearly 80,000 wildlife and scenic acres along the Columbia River
Gorge, for a “rated capacity” of 845 MW.
The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre project will blanket some 320,000 acres
of sage grouse habitat and BLM land in Wyoming with 1,000 monstrous
3-MW turbines, to generate zero to 3,000 MW of intermittent power.
That’s eight times the size of Washington, DC, to get an average annual
output one-fourth of what Palo Verde generates 90 percent of the time.
But C-SM has already received preliminary approval from BLM.
To replace just 20 percent of the United States’ 995,000 MW of total
installed generating capacity, we would need to blanket an area the
size of Kansas with wind turbines, and then add nearly a thousand
600-MW gas-fired backup generators … and thousands of miles of new high
voltage transmission lines.
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