This Is Encouraging

The first Offshore Wind Farm has received the green light from the Department of Interior. Cape Wind, a 24 square mile project to be built off the coast of Cape Cod, somewhere between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, will be the first of its kind in the US,  apparently paving the way for more around the country.

Ever since I was caught in the first “gas crisis” in 1974 as a student in Boston, I’ve been wondering when we would start to shake off our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. Wind power is a very viable energy generation solution, since as long as we have weather we’ll have wind. We have a wind farm established here in Central Pennsylvania that you can see stretching across the mountain ridges when you drive up Route 81. (((Billy)))‘s probably familiar with it.

It took a long time to obtain approval, as there was much opposition to it, including from Ted Kennedy when he was alive. Reviewing the Wikipedia articles on the pros and cons, it seems to me that the pros pretty much outweigh the cons. Our reliance on fossil fuels needs to be toned down, and eventually stopped, not just because it’s getting more expensive (there’s no guarantee that alternative sources of energy won’t be just as expensive) but for environmental and geo-political reasons also. With global warming a fact, it won’t hurt to cut down on the carbon emissions. And with most of the oil in the Middle East, we need to take away some of their influence.

I have a hard time imagining why a series of very tall towers with windmills is so objectionable. Much of the opposition comes from the local area, but these things are going to be 5 miles off the coast. The opposition seems to be primarily aesthetic, or selfish. I find the ones on the Pennsylvania ridge-tops to be quite majestic, when viewed from a distance, spinning slowly in the wind, back-lit by the setting sun. I don’t mean to romanticize them, but hey, everyone thinks windmills in Holland look quaint. Aesthetically they don’t bother me at all (and yes, I wouldn’t mind one in my back yard, but that’s not the point.)

Environmentally, we have to look at the question macroscopically rather than microscopically. Sure, they’ll probably tear up some shell beds, and disrupt some local fishing areas, but nature has a way of compensating when left to its own devices. People on the Cape Cod beaches will have to look at them, way off in the distance, but seriously, so what? They have to look at ships when they’re out there, and they don’t complain that they are aesthetically displeasing.

Globally we need to move in the direction of self sufficiency and clean energy, so from a macroscopic point of view, it seems like a no-brainer to me. It’s so myopic to overly worry about the local environment, when the global environment is so much more important. The process of approval has delayed the project for 10 years, and that’s 10 years we won’t get back.

Perhaps with one under our belt, the remaining proposals around the country can be expedited, and we can start moving into the 21st century.

add to Digg itreddit Stumble It!

20 thoughts on “This Is Encouraging

  1. They’ve been trying to get this going off DE, and it looks like this is going to get it going finally. I hate that they get it first, but there’s some clout up there that’s not present in DE or NJ. Oh well, as long as we get it eventually.

  2. This is a good thing. Wind farms aren’t exactly eye candy, but they’re not overly ugly either. We need to do a lot more to harness clean, natural energy. This is a start.

  3. I read the other day that the projected windfarm projects just along the east coast could account for a quarter of the whole nation’s electricity needs. I understand there’s more of a problem establishing them here out West due to the deeper seabeds. Maybe they’d have to be closer in than five miles, like the oil rigs already in place. Definitely a neat idea, isn’t it?

  4. Follow the Danes. I find them aesthetically pleasing. Far better than, say, millions of gallons of oil being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico every week. But maybe that’s just me.

  5. I see them everyday on my drive home from work. And I want to see lots more.

    Right now, I’m waiting to find out if I’ll be assigned down to the Gulf Coast. For a disaster that BP said could never happen. And if it did happen, they are more than prepared. And if the government tried to regulate it, it would be more likely.

  6. I want to see a celebrity washing off a dagger-toothed sludge dredger or a rabid stench fowl. I also would like to be in charge of naming animals.

  7. The problem with windmills isn’t that they’re ugly: they aren’t, at least not the more modern, prettier ones. The problem isn’t even with one windmill here and there, or a row of two dozen of them lining the top of a mountain and extending into the ocean. The problem is that they’re noisy when placed in large numbers near, or inside, residential areas. Sure, you can’t hear them while driving, but stand near them and you can hear them, that white noise that’s ever-present and never goes away. I spent half an hour with them and they were driving me insane. The constant humming, shushing and howling. Sure, you can get used to it if you live with them long enough, but is that really such a good idea?

    I’m not saying that they’re a bad idea. I’m saying that people who have to live near them might have a legitimate source of worry, and it makes no sense to trash the GOP every time somebody has a beef with an environmental proposal. “You don’t want windmills in your area? You must be a Republican and hate the environment.”

    • People grow so accustomed to traffic noise living in a big city, they can’t stand the quiet of the country. Some people can’t take change well. Sad, but no reason to halt progress. I say if such things decrease anyone’s property values or cause their kids to grow a 2nd head or something, then they have a legitimate beef but noise? That’s a tough sell, especially when the alternative is scrubbing oil off birds in the Gulf, and what about the oysters? Has anyone thought of the oysters?

      • Yes, oysters. Friends don’t make friends lose their oyster virginity without warning them that’s it’s not like that other virginity, it’s not fun at all.

        Never said there’s a need to halt progress, and neither is the alternative the scrubbing oil off of birds. I recognize that that’s exxageration for conversational effect, but still.

        • Power has to be had. I suppose you could debate that, but it wouldn’t be easy.

          Power requires fuel/energy.

          Options for fuel/energy are currently oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, nuclear fission and wind.

          If the risk of one of those options is white noise, especially in light of the unfolding risk of one being demonstrated now in the Gulf, of another through air pollutants and dead miners, and some ugly risks of the rest, then I repeat, that’s a tough sell to poo poo wind.

          • Again with exageration for conversational effect. I have no interest in debating whether or not power has to be had. To me it’s a given as the default, the *only* position, that power has to be had.

            And then again, I’m not poo pooing wind. From what I’ve read, wind turbines operate at about 12% efficiency over a period of about a year. That’s because the other 88% of the time the wind either doesn’t blow or it doesn’t blow at just the right speed.

            That means that regular power generators–oil, gas, coal, hydro, nuclear–all have to operate at or near to 100% efficiency to provide the bulk of the power requirement. And you just wait until everybody starts plugging their cars in to the power grid to refuel them.

            Do we have to go through another ethanol-style craze only to see it flame out and die because the numbers simply don’t add up?

            And for the record, I do not accept the premise that the only choice we have is between wind turbines and a bizarro combination of accidental oil slick and dead miners.

            • Well regulations and/or enforcement of regulations is apparently unAmerican, so it would seem the choice is “between wind turbines and a bizarro combination of accidental oil slick and dead miners.”

              I don’t see where you’re getting the need for 100% efficiency for “regular” generators. Why would that be necessary? And where are you getting 12% efficiency for Wind?

              I get that the wind doesn’t blow all the time, but oil won’t flow forever.

    • The nice thing about most wind farms, though is that they tend to need places with consistent sources of wind – like out on the ocean, or on top of mountains – places most people don’t live. That’s not saying that civilization won’t move into those spaces, or that the occasional farm will be near residences (because the point is to provide power for those residences, after all) but on the whole, the noise objection would be negligible, compared to the benefits.

  8. I meant to leave you a genuine compliment for this post when I first saw it. Kudos.

    On a tangential note, is your blog screwed up for everyone or just me? All the content is floating to the right of the container (I’m using Firefox).

  9. Actually, an upgrade to the latest version of Firefox fixed the problem. WordPress must be grabbing coders off the streets these days. Out-of-the-box, their code is vulnerable to CSRF & XSS exploits, too. I suggest WordPress Defender for the interested.

Comments are closed.