Which Way the Wind Blows

Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.
Image via Wikipedia

There may be a place for wind-generated power in our limping, too-late transition from coal to perhaps something else. But I don’t see it coming in the form of the massive bladed towers (it CAN be done but it should NOT be done, engineers) and it most certainly does not belong on Appalachian forest ridges. Why?

Serving Suggestion for Today: Read all of Chris Bolgiano’s letter to President Obama. You’ll enjoy her pleasant irony and sarcasm and puns even as you’ll learn from her heavily fact based opinion. Many of you (if you’re “from around here”) will agree with her 100%. Excerpt below:

Glossy ads for wind power always show turbines in open fields, never in forests. That’s because every turbine requires up to five acres of deforestation. Hundreds of turbines are being built here, burgeoning to tens of thousands if the U.S. Department of Energy indiscriminately pursues its “20% Wind Energy By 2030″ program. Do the math, and factor in the forest fragmentation that multiplies the loss of habitat, and the super-wide new roads that destroy the last remote, wild ridges.

Still want wind in your electrical future? I do. But let’s do better than the Giant Ridgetop Bird Killers. Revisit Humdinger’s Windbelt. You read about this here a couple of years ago. The technology continues to improve and is easily scalable. Why must we always pursue the Bigger Hammer approach? Because those technologies that do the best job of distributing Max Bucks get the nod.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Thanks, Fred. I’ve been feeling guilty about fighting the proposed windmills on the ridge behind our house in Meadows of Dan. I felt they were wrong for so many reasons. I’m looking forward to the U.S. taking the lead in alternative energy.

  2. Thanks for connecting us to Humdinger’s windbelt. It was good to see it has gotten so much coverage in the mainstream press. Hopefully it will be widely implemented and soon.