Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Mmm. Are windmills part of the energy solution, or are they are a diversion?
Wind turbines to be built in Lake Erie by 2012, group says, tells that the state wants to create a wind turbine farm in the waters of Lake Erie. This first project would only have eight turbines with an aggregate capacity of 20 MW. But this is an incremental step toward placing hundreds of wind turbines in Lake Erie. The lake is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, described as an asset for constructing the towers. The Request for Proposal can be downloaded here. It is a good opportunity for someone in the right place.
Turbine Foes Dealt Bad Hand describes some of the silly arguments being composed to deny windmills for someone's own backyard (or lake). Toxic sediments could be disturbed on the lake floor when constructing the towers. The noise of the turbines, only 1 km offshore will be disturbing and will drive down property values for those that paid for water views. There could also be epileptic fits from the wind turbines' strobe effect.
Considerably more thoughtful is The Answer is Not Blowing in the Wind. The author asserts that energy dependence has Congress and individuals rushing to any alternative source, whether it makes sense or not. Most dangerous from the headlong rush into dubious projects is the loss of resources that could be applied to worthy projects. Although a common argument, Dr. Perry claims the complete carbon footprint of the wind turbines must be considered. How much CO2 was produced for the turbines and their structures? He believes a wind turbine starts out with a huge carbon debt that will take years to repay.
Sheesh. The real question is the final carbon footprint. Unfortunately, the error bands in this computation can place almost any alternative source as either good or bad. Biofuels are certainly in this category. Yet, it would seem there is a carbon footprint or penalty for doing nothing. I believe we need some wind farms to better understand the advantages. A smart grid will allow us to better utilize these energy sources that can be offline (or the wind isn't blowing). But we do need to consider the big picture.