Wind power supplies about 2% of the energy in the US and in 2009 that was expected to rise to 20% by 2030. The construction of wind farms is buoyed by the 30% tax credit for investment in them but the price for electricity generated by wind energy has fallen recently in to rates below those for electricity generated by natural gas in some areas.
Proponents of wind energy call it a “key” solution to future energy needs, unless it these farms are visible to wealthy liberals. Then they become a menace.
Cape Wind is a windmill farm approved by development by the current administration. The project is expected to cover 24 square miles, cost $2.5 billion and generate enough electricity to furnish power for Cape Cod, Nanatucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The project has been opposed by the Kennedy family and Walter Cronkite who said
“Our natural treasures should be off limits to industrialization, and Nantucket is one of those treasures.”
Cronkite later changed his tune when his hypocrisy became too burdensome.
Reliability of wind turbines remains an issue, as well as does life expectancy. Wind turbines were thought to have a life span of 20 years but a former chief wind turbine engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory expects turbines to last 7-11 years. The replacement of gearboxes is expensive. This expense can become problematic when repairs become necessary. I drove from Palm Springs to LA a few years ago and at least one of out of ten windmills was inoperative.
Texas has spent billions on wind farms and has become dependent on wind power. The result of the dependency on green energy that is Texas is suffering from rolling blackouts.
Wyoming is said to have one of the highest wind power potentials of any state in the US and it is home to several wind farms. One of them, Foote Creek Rim, is located near Arlington.
Arlington, Wyoming would seem like the ideal venue for a wind farm to generate clean green energy. It has an an average annual windspeed of 31 mph with gusts occasionally exceeding 100 mph. Arlington, Wyoming also recently endured an extreme windchill of -54 degrees and put on display the effect of severe cold on metal.
Another victim of global warming
Anthony Watts observes:
Combine cold temperatures that make steel brittle along with gusty winds, and you have a Titanic recipe for disaster.
While windmills won’t operate without wind, they will also not operate when the winds are too strong.
At higher speeds the turbines automatically shut down – a feature which allows them to withstand Wyoming’s 125-mph gusts.
The turbines are also adapted to operate reliably in extremely cold conditions.