Thursday, February 01, 2007

In Love with the Lusty Wind

Kelpie Wilson is one of my favorite environmental writers, always in the thick of the issues, deeply informed, and not afraid to mix it up a little or confront the opposition directly to get a point across. Her interview style is equally illuminating. In this Truthout interview with wind energy expert Randall Tinkerman, the conversation meanders naturally from the differences in European and American wind power approaches to the viability of some of the latest technologies. Tinkerman has strong opinions on futuristic technologies:
Globally, we need to fill the existing areas of strong resources with the technology that is available or on the drawing boards today. That still requires a large commitment to be accomplished. When we have windpower meeting 20 percent of global use, we can begin to explore some of the more exotic technologies at the fringes of our expertise.

As an example, many people support micro-turbines on buildings as part of our energy future. From an architectural standpoint, that may be cool, and from a showcasing of renewables standpoint, that may be effective. However, given that the cost of energy from the turbines is so much higher, (people like to build where the winds are weakest, not strongest) why not just have city-dwellers invest in the cost-effective modern rural turbines, and ship the power back home?

Lots of good information packed into this interview, providing a revealing snapshot of wind power today.