Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wind and "The Grid"

The Beer: I had to drink MGD Light last night. But since I don't complain about free food, free beer and free help, no complaints.

The Bicycle: Never change a tire and tube under the influence of alcohol. I can't come out well. So as the Madone awaits maintenance, I've made some adjustments to the (pre-Raleigh) Univega. I'm hoping for a more comfortable ride today.

As an aside, the Harley 105th is going on this weekend. For the 100th, we left town (living in downtown Milwaukee, there was no choice. Here in the northern 'burbs, not so bad). Last night was Springsteen. My brother had a line on some tickets, but couldn't use them himself and asked if I wanted them. We were at a Jazz party at a friends' house. An awesomely good time and much better than being around drunk bikers and listening to a political lecture by "The Boss".

The VRWC: As a voice crying out in the wilderness, I continue to hit energy issues and here is another.

There are a few things you have to understand here:

  • At any point in time, there is only enough energy out on the grid to cover all the needs plus all the losses. The losses are due to the limitations of physical laws. If you followed along in high school, you probably understand. If you didn't, you probably write energy articles for the New York Times.
  • The electrical grid is not Balkanized. There is a good reason to have many companies interconnected. It greatly increases the reliability of the grid. I'd explain, but there isn't enough space here to do so. Read the book Overload by Arthur Hailey.
  • Big Environmental has blocked expansion of the grid for decades. They have used every tactic from chaining themselves to trees (a personal favorite of mine. I say, "cut the tree down anyway and they won't do it again") to the big lie about electromagnetic fields - which is still used to great effect regarding cell phones.
  • An electric utility will purchase any energy out there which is cheaper than what they can make. They would be stupid to not do so. The fact is, even though the grid is, I would argue, antiquated and overloaded, wind power (mostly) just ain't cheap. It's not a question of moving it, it's a question of economics. The U. S. leads the world in wind power generation. In some areas, the generation cost is 4-to-6 cents per kwh. That's competetive, but intermittent. Wind (and solar) cannot supply baseload energy.

Bottom line here is that the article is misleading. There are a number of reasons why some wind farms can't get to market. It's not the lack of a road.

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