Wind Power: Free, Plentiful and Fickle


Emma Graham-Harrison/Reuters

We love wind, as do a lot of companies who are investing in wind farms around the world, but the New York Times writes that while every Kilowatt generated by wind replaces fossil fuel or nuclear, standby capacity has to be built for when the wind does not blow. They discuss Texas, where demand is driven by air conditioning for homes and businesses, but the hottest days are often the least windy. Consequently they are building coal or gas plants to match every megawatt of wind capacity. Being for peak load and backup, they are not the most efficient or cleanest plants around. It is also often windy at night when demand is low, and the wind power is competing with low cost base load. Until a decent method of storing wind power (making hydrogen, pumping water uphill) is figured out, or until a carbon tax is put on coal plants, (according to this article, not this writer) wind power may be little more than window dressing. ::New York Times

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