Thursday, May 26, 2005

Never Enough Wind Power Department

You might've seen the story on the wind map which, by identifying the places with the highest winds world-wide, allows us to build wind turbines where they would matter. At least 13 percent of known sites have enough wind speed to turn a turbine. And with enough of those turbines, we could generate massive amounts of electricity.

How massive? The entire world was using 14 terawatts of energy in 2002. With what we currently know, proper investment in wind turbines, and an improved electrical grid, we could be making nearly 72 terawatts of environmentally friendly electricity. As the map is still somewhat crude, lacking in enough data points to flesh out, say, Africa or Siberia, we have no idea how much more wind power might be available.

In short: If our Beloved Leaders stopped sucking up to the energy industry, gave up going after nuclear power and fossil fuels and turned towards wind power, it would not only work well, but we'd have to wonder what the hell to do with all that energy. Think aluminum is cheap now? Imagine how cheap it'd be when electricity is taken for granted as if it were, well, the wind. Hydrogen isn't an energy source? Fine, but it's a great energy store, so use the electrical power to crank out hydrogen in mass quantities. Want to elevate much of humanity from poverty? Make electricity so cheap that a relatively comfortable lifestyle is possible worldwide--refridgeration, hot water, electric light, and environmental controls all become possible, as would enormous economic benefits, recouping the initial overlay for turbines and infrastructure many times over. I'm barely scratching the surface, and I'm not getting particularly creative, either.

Imagine what uses we could have for abundant energy. It's scary and perhaps perilous in a larger sense, but I cannot help but think the good would outweigh the bad by far. And it may be the way to our salvation, as a civilization and perhaps even of a species.

Check out the map in the Wired article linked above. Notice the red, black, green, and yellow dots around the United States alone. Thanks to constant, federally funded (ahem) weather station monitoring, we know where to start building right now. Building the turbines and infrastructure, alone, will create a few million badly needed jobs, and would give our economy a kick-start no tax break can provide. We could be energy-independent within a decade if we started now.

Any politician who refuses to support wind energy, given the state of the art--and especially, any politician who insists on throwing billions at oil, coal, and nuclear, but not spend one cent on setting up a turbine--simply is an asshole.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Madrid