Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

24 March 2009

Wind Power Delays and Limits

Recently, wind power has been in the news locally here in Maryland. In one case, the concern is that many bats are dying at the sites of wind farms in western Maryland, West Virginia, and nearby areas of Pennsylvania. For some time, there was puzzlement as to why bats would fly into turbine blades despite their sonar capabilities. A recent report in The Washington Times notes that researchers have found out that when the blades are spinning there are low pressure areas in which the pressure is low enough that the bats lungs explode and they die even without collisions with the blades. The article says this is a relief, since there is an easy solution. The bats only fly in large numbers when the wind is moderate, so the wind generators can simply be shut down when the wind velocity is moderate!

Half the time when I see a wind farm the generator blades are not turning at all. There is usually more wind at night than during the day, so a disproportionate fraction of the electricity generated is already at night when electricity use is lower than during the day. Now, in the interest of the bats, the wind turbines will be shut down an even larger fraction of the time at many eastern sites with goodly bat populations. And bats are not the only species which require protection. Here is an account of the travails in building a wind farm in western Maryland where the project was redesigned in the interests of the mourning warbler, mountain wood fern, summer sedge, Allegheny wood rat, and the timber rattlesnake. The number of turbines was reduced from 24 to 17, while the height of each generator was increased from 387 feet to 548 feet for the highest part of the blade in its sweep. The farm is rated at 40 MW, but farms commonly put out a very small fraction of their rated power.

Another interesting local story about wind generators is one of a number of farmers who bought their own smaller generators for $20,000 apiece in anticipation of getting a $10,000 refund per generator from the Federal government. But...the local authorities will not permit the farmers to put their wind generators up. So, the farmers are stuck with a useless $20,000 of capital on the ground, which is neither generating power nor Federal subsidies. Meanwhile, the time limit for the Federal subsidy money is running out.

Lately, I have been seeing an ad on TV for photovoltaic power plants in which rows of solar arrays seem to stretch very far beyond the woman touting solar power for miles. The panels are large and raised well off the ground and the ground looks absolutely flat, packed down, and barren. She talks about covering many square miles of the Southwest with such environmentally friendly and non-CO2 producing operations. Now, can anyone be in their right mind who believes that the environmentalists will allow many, many square miles of the southwest to be covered with such barren structures. Within these areas there are to be no flora and no fauna. These areas are to become as barren as the area shown in the ad. Well, I don't think so. The environmentalists will come to champion all the lizards, birds, rats, spiders, cactus plants, and tumbling tumble weed species for sure. You can count on it. No such projects of any great scale will be allowed to be built.


John said...

I was performing a search for Objectivist blogs and found yours. I enjoyed reading your latest post and welcome the clarity of writing and the adherence to facts instead of feelings.

Additionally, I have a comment concerning the wind turbines and solar panels. It seems as if the environmentalists, who pride themselves on preventing industrialists from succeeding through regulation and denegration, are pursuing the same goal of destruction for their own endeavors. Could they possibly want to be so environmentally friendly that the ultimate result is the cessation of all motion? I would compare the modern day environmentalists who want to be increasingly more environmentally friendly than their neighbor to the characters of "Atlas Shrugged" who pursued selflessness to the point of death.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for your comment John.

While there are many environmentalists who simply have a high regard for our environment and, out of a sometimes exaggerated concern for it, will be too willing to inconvenience themselves, there are also those who pursue the religion of environmentalism. In the religious mode, the environment minus man is elevated to the highest value. This is an innate value and as such is not to be questioned. Anything man does that changes the environment is harmful to the highest value, so it is evil. Since man must take control of his environment to live, man is the root of evil.

It then becomes inescapable that man must be eliminated, except for a very few enlightened souls who are prepared and eager to grovel to the environment as its guardians from the rapine of man. Of course, when the rest of mankind is eliminated there will be no reason to allow the guardians to live, since their lives cause the pollutants and greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere. This religion is very unkind to those who choose to follow it.

Recent polls suggest that more people are becoming aware of some of the exaggerations in the media about such things as anthropogenic global warming. This is happening in the United Kingdom and in the United States. As carbon taxes move forward many more mild environmentalists will likely take a more critical look at environmentalism and alternative energy. I sure hope so, anyway.

John said...

I understand that this comment does not pertain to the Wind Power topic but it is an interesting observation that I want to share and hear your response.

I visited D.C. today after work and decided to walk to the Lincoln Memorial. As I approached the stairs I saw a handful of college students dressed as gangsters and tossing dice as if gambling while another student filmed the event. In witnessing what they were doing I was disgusted by their disrespect. Since I do not believe in pronouncing a moral judgement simply because I feel it, I began to ponder the meaning of my disgust towards them. I asked why does it matter that those individuals were throwing dice on the steps of a monument to Abraham Lincoln. I had to ask what the purpose of a monument is and realized that a monument is a tribute to the greatness of a man and all that he accomplished. A monument is a means for man to celebrate achievement and solidify in such a way that future generations can share in his greatness, not by mooching off of it, but by understanding and reckognizing it. A monument of course is not the source of greatness but rather only has value equal to that of which it is representing. If the man is worthless, so to is that which memorializes him. A monument to Hitler would not be worth the materials used to construct it. When a man looks at a monument there are many things for him to admire. He can admire the man immortalized in stone. He can admire the builder who with skill designed and built the magnificent structure. He can admire himself because the reason he admires the monument is because he shares its values.

So by what rational purpose did I pronounce my moral judgement upon those students? Because they failed to reckognize the value of that monument and thus what it represented. They fail to see greatness and understand it, and that is the source of my disgust.

I look forward to your additional insight and comments.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Hi John,

Since this comment was off-message, I inserted it here as a means of letting you know it is published, but I also set it up as a separate note for 28 March 2009.