Winding Us Up

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s he eeevil Bjorn Lomborg again, popping the balloons of those who think wind will be our energy future:

A new report by University of Edinburgh professor Gordon Hughes for the Global Warming Policy Foundation estimates that 36 GW of new wind power [in the UK] would cost $190 billion for just 23 megatons of CO2 reduction per year. In other words, temperature rises would be postponed by a mere 66 hours by the end of the century.

Contrary to what many think, the cost of both onshore and offshore wind power has not been coming down. On the contrary, it has been going up over the past decade. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledged this in its most recent renewable-energy report. Likewise, the U.K. Energy Research Center laments that wind-power costs have “risen significantly since the mid-2000’s.”

Wind is already close to reaching its zenith in bang per buck. Much of the low-hanging fruit — places where it is windy and sparsely inhabited — has been picked. Every new site gets more expensive, less productive and more burdensome on the locals. That’s true of oil too, of course. But oil has a much longer productivity cycle and produces a lot more energy.

Lomborg suggests we’d be better off using the newest natural gas plants, which would reduce emissions by 20% but could provide most of our energy cheaply. Don’t discount the value of “cheap” in that equation: every dollar we spend on a wind farm is a dollar we can’t spend on research and development of technologies that really will make a difference.

The fact is that alternative energy is still not and maybe never will be ready to power our civilization. It can contribute around the edges. But unless there is a major technological change, it remains a sideshow.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    You can get massive amounts of energy from wind, but not with windmill farms. That technology has peaked unless someone comes up with radically different structural material to build with. Even then, the amount of energy to be harnessed is pretty much maxed out.

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  2. Seattle Outcast

    That’s the thing about oil exploitation/exploration – the payoff is generally 10 years down the road, which is why asshole/fucktard/liar/should-all-fucking-die-being-raped politicians always like to trot out the line of “no immediate relief from high gas prices” when it gets pointed out that there is shitloads of oil in our own backyard to be recovered if the feds would only let us get to it.

    I’d rather we spend the time & money right fucking now to ensure plenty of cheap energy ten years from now, and all the ecotards can just go fuck themselves with a solar cell until they bleed. If “green energy” is so fucking important to them, they can disconnect themselves from the grid and only use the energy they personally collect from solar, wind, etc. They won’t do it, of course, the amount of energy most of them will generate will barely be enough to keep all of their Apple products fully charged.

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  3. hist_ed

    That’s the thing about oil exploitation/exploration – the payoff is generally 10 years down the road, which is why asshole/fucktard/liar/should-all-fucking-die-being-raped politicians always like to trot out the line of “no immediate relief from high gas prices”

    The asshole/fucktard/liar/should-all-fucking-die-being-raped politicians are also simply wrong. If the markets know that the US is committed to a long term program of expanding oil production, even though most of that oil may be years from the market, that long term trend will be part of the price of oil. How much? No one knows for sure, but the effect will be there.

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    True, the market actually responds almost immediately to news of new development – speculators sit up and take notice of stuff that affects supply. Pipelines, new fields, new technology – all are considered. Politicians only account for how much of that oil will be immediately refined as if there wasn’t already a glut of oil.

    The issue, last time I checked, wasn’t how much oil is available, but the possibility of various disruptions to production in the future – you know, all the various uprisings and Iran acting like someone that wants to get bombed.

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  5. Mississippi Yankee

    Although I’m of the “Drill Baby Drill” coalition the nuclear power industry is also close to my heart too. (first wife over 30 years there, oldest son 18 years).

    A nuclear power plant sitting on one square mile of land generates the same energy as 20 square miles of solar panels or 1200 windmills. And as reactors through-out the free world are being converted to the Gen III type ( the Fukushima plant in Japan had not been converted) a nuclear melt down is all but an impossibility.

    What really gets my goat is the crony-capitalism through out the energy field. And nor just Solyndra either. There are billionaires like T. Boone Pickett who was subsidize for the natural gas under his vast lands in western Texas. But when LP gas fell out of favor in the 80’s he lobbied (read: bought influence) to turn those millions of acres into wind farms. He was a big Pelosi favorite BTW. And now that natural gas is the new ‘clean energy’ again, back in Washington is T. Boone Pickett looking for more tax dollars to subsidize endeavor.

    Recently I’ve been reading about a reactor that is not only fail-safe (as in turn it off and walk away) but WE have had working models of this Thorium based MSR since the late 60’s.
    Their output level, right now is about 50 megawatts output as opposed to 100 megawatts for a uranium based reactor but with a much smaller footprint and way,way less radioactive waste. Plus one pound of Thorium produces as much power 300 pounds of uranium or 3.5 million ponds of coal. Why aren’t my tax dollars spent here instead being given to T. Boone Pickett?

    Here is a very informative article on Thorium based MSR. from Popular Science

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