Monday, August 11, 2008

Yet another energy gripe

I just heard a commercial, I didn't catch for what, that repeated the canard that new energy = new jobs. I've written about that enough lately.

But it also said something I've heard before, that we should take advantage of free energy sources like wind. This is highly misleading. Oil is free, it's right down there in the ground. What we're paying for is the conversion of it into something useful; in particular, it has to be here instead of underground, it needs to be transported, it needs to be converted into various products.

Wind similarly needs to be converted into usable form. Windmills (or wind tunnels) need to be built to grab the wind, the generated energy needs to be transported to a place where it will be useful, and these steps cost money. (We also tend to ignore the other benefits that come from petroleum, like plastics, things that will have to be replaced by something else.)

Wind may be more cost-effective than petroleum, and it may represent money that will be retained in this country instead of being sent to other countries - that's the case that can and should be made.

But it is false PR to contend that wind or geothermal or water power is's not. I understand we need to minimize the costs of new energy in order to sell it to a skeptical public. But, if these things were really free, we'd already be using them, wouldn't we?


Greg said...

Back when I worked in the electric industry, I noticed all those broken windmills in the Altamont Pass in the San Francisco area. A co-worker explained that it was too expensive to repair them. Besides which, they kill birds and livestock. So you're absolutely right, there's no free energy.

Citizen Carrie said...

Greg, how do the windmills kill livestock? Just curious.

Greg said...

CC: Sorry, temporary insanity. It's just birds that are at risk.

Androcass said...

Let's not be hasty here. You get a good-sized bird, a pelican or an albatross, falling out of the sky, and you can easily take out a calf or two.

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