Hey, Toto, maybe we should be in Kansas? In Maryland wind turbines get banned!

Hey, Toto, maybe we should be in Kansas? In Maryland wind turbines get banned!

Summary: Energy companies and entire countries seem to blow hot and cold on wind energy. Three years ago the German government's energy ministry said wind was too expensive.

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Energy companies and entire countries seem to blow hot and cold on wind energy. Three years ago the German government's energy ministry said wind was too expensive. Better to simply conserve energy. Yet figures show Germany continues to expand its use of wind for generating electricity. And out in Kansas where they're still fighting over those two coal-fired plants that may never get built, an anti-coal writer cites Germany as an example of using wind to create the baseload power needed to run a national power grid. One widely-spread myth is that only nuclear or coal or natural gas can provide the kind of baseload supply of electricity needed to keep our refrigerators and alarm systems humming while we sleep.

The German wind industry is organized and growing in importance. Here's some rhetoric from their website: "Boosting investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and new technologies has wide-reaching benefits and would contribute to the EU’s strategy for growth and jobs. Such an initiative would cut import spending, provide many longterm employment opportunities, and improve the EU’s economy as a whole. Such investment would also help expand knowledge in this field via research and development in new energy technologies. The EU is already the global leader in renewable technologies – it has, for example, 60% of the world market share in wind energy. In fact, these technologies account for an annual turnover of €20 billion and employ 300 000 people in Europe. Now the EU has the potential to lead the rapidly growing market for low carbon technologies, combating global warming while pushing international research forward...

"This means transforming Europe into a highly efficient, low CO2 energy economy."

It must be pointed out that NONE of the world's major oil companies is German-owned so Big Oil has very little clout in German politics. Sound unfamiliar?

Germany is not the only Euro-nation to get windy: I recently blogged about Spanish companies being important globally, along with an American company based in Florida.

No Wind Without Politics

Because wind power's freely available, battles over wind farms and turbines center on land use and placement. In Maryland the governor has just banned turbines on state-owned land. His quote: "While we must continue to explore and make progress on creating a more sustainable and independent energy future for Maryland, we will not do so at the expense of the special lands we hold in the public trust." No wind turbines at your favorite Maryland state park.

Here's a look at the politics of wind power in New Jersey, and along its shore. There the governor is pushing for offshore turbine farms. And similar political battles may be fought in Wisconsin, where both land and lake locations for turbines get some negative attention. On the other shore of Lake Michigan, utility companies are eyeballing both the lake and its shoreline for wind farms in Michagan.

You can check Google news for your state, and chances are strong you'll find some recent story about somebody proposing or opposing wind farms there. The winds of change are blowing through the energy industry.

We know what's fuelling this windblown turbine turbulence: oil prices. Last week, for the record, crude ended at over $112 per barrel. Yet some analysts were predicting a drop in prices due to lower demand caused by economic woes around the world. Perhaps all the way down to $90. You got it, down to $90.

Topics: Telcos, Government, Government UK

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8 comments
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  • Decisions like this are why the US can't get ahead...

    We have stupid politicians making stupid decisions. I could only wonder if this guy has an oil or other background in current energy sources.

    A wind farm doesn't do a damned thing to hurt the 'land'. Sheesh...
    BitTwiddler
  • Only "environmental hypocrites" can't see reason

    Wind farms aren't 100% ecological or pollution free. They KILL thousands of birds, many in the endanger species. Also, the infrastructure needed to suport and maintain the turbines is very destructive to the land (ie: roads).

    Putting wind turbines in public lands (ie: national/wildlife reserves and parks) will not only change and destroy the landscape, it will also put endangered species in worst danger than before.

    If you don't give a darn about birds (which means you are an environmental hypocrite), then at least understand that the last thing we need is to bastardize and destroy our national parks by installing giant wind turbines that are privately owned and maintain.
    wackoae
    • The danger to birds is vastly overstated.

      One of the largest objections "that wind turbines kills birds" is also one of the least understood, and is favorite of people linked to oil profits.
      While wind turbines do kill a small amount of birds, the newer turbines with newer technology and slower speeds have vastly reduced the number. Meanwhile, the natural of occurrence birds striking tall objects is never really factored in; much less the other man made objects that kill birds, such as cars, communication towers, and small buildings, which kill orders of magnitudes greater numbers of birds. And what about the damage from the pollution from other forms of energy.

      So here are a few statistics I found:

      According to Leslie Evans Ogden, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) estimates that at least **4 million to 5 million birds are killed annually** in communication tower collisions in the United States" Add this to the estimated **98 million birds** killed annually by collisions with glass windows, especially those of tall office buildings, and it becomes clear that tall structures pose a very real threat to bird populations. (1)



      On the other hand, a comprehensive review of communication tower kill literature published between 1995 and March 2000, commissioned by the U.S. FWS (which includes a section on wind turbine collisions), revealed that less than 100 avian fatalities involving wind turbines in the U.S. have been reported in that time period (excepting the installation at Altamont Pass). The highly publicized bird kills at Altamont Pass in California are the only significant (large number) kills involving wind turbines reported at any installation to date. (2)


      (1)# Ogden, Leslie Evans "A Deadly Obstacle Course", Defenders of Wildlife, Fall 2000, pgs. 27-31.

      (2) Kerlinger, Paul, Ph.D. "Avian Mortality at Communications Towers, A Review of Recent Literature, Research and Methodology," March, 2000. A study commissioned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Migratory Bird Management.
      el1jones
    • ...

      Another myth that has been dispelled many times over.

      First off, more avians are killed by cars than wind turbines.

      Second more avians are killed by skyscrapers in migration paths than by wind turbines.

      Third the Germans, you know the ones leading the world in the technology? They have produced lower speed turbines with warning devices to warn birds away.

      Fourth many wind farms are constructed OUTSIDE migratory flight paths of birds.

      For every bird killed by wind turbines 7 are killed by cars and 13 are killed by skyscrapers. I don't see people banning cars or skyscrapers... and they are more of the problem than the solution. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
    • Not a problem

      The way these people talk, you'd think they wanted to were gonna put a windmill in the middle of some civil war battle ground. Have you seen a windmill farm? Why is anyone wanting to put one of these in a state park? There is plenty of farmland in every state to support this. Look at northern Iowa's farmland. Where 30 years ago you'd see corn, cows, sorgum and corn. I know I said corn twice, but believe me, there is a lot of corn there. Go there today and you will see corn, corn, sorgum, corn, cows and a huge wind turbine. About 1 every mile along US Hwy 59 just south of Minnesota. Oh yeah, and more corn. The bird population in Okiboji and Spirit Lake seems to thrive on all this wind.

      Is someone wanting to put a turbine on Theodore's head in South Dakota? Maybe onto of Devil's Tower.

      Let the states have their ban. It wont affect the rate turbines go up by more than a percent. It will probably just add more taxpayer money to the subsidies they are paying them.
      dbisse
  • RE: Hey, Toto, maybe we should be in Kansas? In Maryland wind turbines get banned!

    So, then, why not solar power? I haven't heard of any birds getting killed by solar panels.
    compudiva
  • Who cares, the environment is not important

    Actually, I do, I just wanted to throw my own "sensensionalized" headline in there like the author did, to get a read (too bad I do not get paid as he does)

    The article reads "will not allow [i]commercial[/i] wind turbines on state forest land"

    It also goes on to say

    [i]O'Malley said the ban applies only to conservation lands owned outright by the state and managed by the Department of Natural Resources. It is not meant to discourage wind power development on other local, federal or privately owned land, he said.[/i]

    It did not say they where in anyway banned from the state period. I have to say that I can not set up a commercial, profit in [b]my[/b] pocket business on federaly protected land, why should an electric company be allowed? Let them purchase or lease land someplace else like the rest of use do.

    It would still bring in revenue for the state without clearcutting 400 acres of state forests to erect the wind turbines.
    John Zern
  • No matter what energy supply you propose..

    There will always be someone to complain about some drawback to it.

    Hydroelectric The fish are gonna die
    Wind The birds are gonna die
    Coal The earth is gonna overheat
    Oil is too expensive
    Nuclear the nuclear waste
    Solar are only 50% efficient at most.

    Mind you this isn't a comprehensive list. just whats off the top of my head
    Species8472