In the post “Fifteen Bad Things with Windpower–and Three Reasons Why” posted on Market Resource, a free market energy blog, the author John Droz Jr makes a number of claims about the negative aspects of wind power. Unfortunately the title gives an inaccurate reflection of what the article is about. The title suggests this piece will address fifteen bad things with wind power; instead, this blog post highlights in fifteen points how things have evolved for wind power up to this point in time. On the other hand, the author’s argument is put forth relatively well as seen by his ability to anticipate and address objections; several of his claims are backed up by reference to studies done on the topic. However, I still believe two claims in particular need to be addressed in terms of lacking validity and not covering all areas of opposition. The first of these claims revolves around the author’s belief that wind power will not reduce carbon dioxide emissions in comparison to fossil fuels. The second claim which needs to be corrected is the idea that wind power is too costly and will not promote economic growth or jobs.
Droz claims the actual carbon dioxide reduction from wind turbines will be miniscule due to the nature of wind energy. It’s true that wind turbines are unable to provide constant and predictable power and therefore require a backup from other fossil fuels. However, it is important to recognize that wind power has not been created as a complete replacement for fossil fuels but rather as a more environmentally friendly partner. Therefore, would it not be more advantageous to develop a complimentary form of energy that has no carbon dioxide emissions? Any degree of carbon dioxide reduction is beneficial compared to what the world is producing now.
Brian Snyder & Mark J. Kaiser (2008) point out that offshore wind farms are expected to operate at maximum capacity for a larger percentage of the time providing a more constant source of power to the electrical grid and thus reducing the need for other sources of energy to serve as a backup. In addition, they indicate other green aspects of wind turbines. Wind power does not need fuel to be generated and as a result it is not associated with the price fluctuations linked with the production of electricity generated from other sources. Wind power also does not rely on large sources of water for production as conventional sources of energy do. In a world where freshwater shortage is looming ahead of us, you would think that Droz should have taken this into consideration. It is apparent he is only presenting one side of the argument. The problems associated with our current forms of energy are much more serious than any of the small challenges which may need to be overcome if wind power was to be implemented. If Droz were to present a more balanced argument he would see that something needs to be done and wind power could be the answer.
There are many problems with Droz’s claims that wind power will benefit the economy. In terms of the creation of green jobs he insists this assertion was “carefully selected to coincide with widespread employment concerns” (Droz 2010). Even if this was true, more jobs will be created and this is a benefit which must be considered. The article titled the Great Wind Debate, published in the Huron Daily Tribune by Kate Hessling and Kelly Jerome, points out that workers are needed for regular and yearly maintenance of wind turbines. Manufacturing jobs will become available in companies making towers, blades gears and other service parts. To say the production of wind turbines will not create jobs is like saying that a new car manufacturing plant will not need workers; wind turbines are not going to produce and service themselves. When addressing the claim of negligible economic growth, Droz refers to a program called JEDI used to make economic projections. He insists that this program is inadequate but fails to explain why.
In Droz’s post he makes reference to an independent analysis of levelized costs published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Unlike Droz, this source recognizes that with any projection the values can vary regionally and across time as technologies evolve. For the sake of better informing his readers, Droz should have mentioned that specific technological and regional characteristics must be taken in to account when a wind farm is proposed. The EIA also state the cost of wind power cannot be directly compared to other technologies because it is not operator controlled. Data provided by the EIA demonstrates that although wind power is marginally more expensive than other technologies, onshore wind power has the potential to be competitive with conventional power sources.
Droz did not fulfil his purpose in writing this blog post. Instead of pointing out reasons why wind power should not be supported, he made it very easy to look into reasons why it should be supported. He took the issue of using wind power as a potential energy source and made a mockery of it. Consider the following statement: “The fact is that your cat is an energy source too. So what? Lightning is an energy source. So what? Should we also connect them to the grid?” (Droz 2010). Any knowledgeable person reading this statement would know better than to regard its face value. If wind power is not a viable energy source than why are so many European countries resorting to it? Boccard (2009) points out that wind power already contributes more than a sixth of the installed electrical capacity in Germany. As our world continues to change, it is inevitable that renewable energy sources are going to receive increased attention. Unfortunately, as with the development of any new product, there will always be setbacks such as the cost of establishing new technology. Look how far nuclear power has come despite the struggles of public acceptance and feasibility it faced in the past.
I believe that Droz has taken the wrong approach to viewing wind power. He made several valid points but failed to elaborate in a manner that would make them convincing. Although his argument may seem sound to the general public, when examined further, it clearly lacks dependability and strength. It is evident that he has pushed aside the numerous positive features of wind power. He has taken all value away from a subject which deserves great consideration.
Boccard, N. (2010). Economic properties of wind power a European assessment. Energy Policy,38(7) 3232-3244. 10.1016/j.enpol.2009.07.033
Hessling, K., & Jerome, K. (2010, October 26). The Great Wind Debate. Huron Daily Tribune. Retrieved November 6, 2010, from http://www.michigansthumb.com/articles/2010/10/26/news/local_news/doc4 doc4cc6ba6b38435240700870.txt
Master Resource: A Free Market Energy Blog. (2010, September). Fifteen Bad Things with Windpower–and Three Reasons Why. Retrieved from www.masterresource.org/2010/09/15-bad-things-windpower/
Snyder, B., & Kaiser, M. (2009). Ecological and economic cost-benefit analysis of offshore wind energy. Renewable Energy: An International Journal, 34(6), 1567-1578. doi:10.1016/j.renene.2008.11.015
U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2010, January). Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources from the Annual Energy Outlook 2010. Retrieved from www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity_generation.html