Monday, November 13, 2006

Windmills - When There Is No Wind

Inevitably, and reasonably so, the point is made; “So, with windmills, what do you do when the wind doesn't blow?” There are a number of possible options:

  1. The first answer, the answer the coal industry wants you to think is the only answer; is to buy power from coal fired power plants. Even if this were the only answer, we could greatly reduce our pollutants and the use of our precious water most of the time.

  2. The second answer is that we could buy power from windmill farms from far away where the wind is blowing. This is a huge country. Somewhere, the wind is always blowing.

  3. We could also rely on solar power. Don't let them BS you about the price of solar power. The cost of solar power has dropped significantly due to new technology. Solar power is competitive now.

  4. We could store the energy. That's right, there are a number of ways we could generate excess energy, and store it for the days with no wind. Now; the first thing you will hear from the naysayers is that batteries won't work. I agree. Let's move on. What I recommend are flywheels. They store energy in a rotating mass – which can be easily recovered on quiet days without reliance on power generators from anywhere else. They are essentially available off the shelf. They're non-polluting. And their producers claim that they are 90% efficient!

So, as you see now, days without wind would not mean days without power. Some combination of all of these options (and maybe some others) will ensure that we always have enough electrical power on hand.

Picture this:

If Nevada were to generate our power using a combination of wind and solar – with flywheels storing energy for times when it is calm and dark; we would use no water, we would not pollute, and the cost of our energy would never go through the roof (because wind and sunlight will always be free).

We can wait for this day to someday happen, or we can do it now. The technology already exists. All we have to do is buy it and install it. Don't let them BS you about the cost. Sure, they'll profit more if we use dirty, low tech coal. But, their creative accounting is all lies. They leave out the costs to us; the health costs, the environmental costs, the loss of our community's water, the loss of our attraction to new residents, and the temporary nature of this type of power generation. The coal fired power people intend to use us, abuse us, and leave us with the mess to clean up. It doesn't have to be this way.

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