Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gone With the Windmills

Predictably, recent weather events on the East Coast have elicited the usual media reaction. Serious publications assure us that the hurricane and the Nor’easter prove beyond any doubt that global warming is a fact.

Those who make such assertions do not know what the word “prove” means and do not know the difference between weather and climate.

As one scientist pointed out, the Atlantic Ocean has cooled and the Pacific Ocean has warmed. The Arctic has warmed while the Antarctic has cooled.

These occurrences have been predicted for years now. They prove nothing about carbon emissions.

This morning Robert Bryce points out that the citizens of the affected East Coast regions are not crying out for more solar panels and windmills.

They are clamoring for more fossil fuels. Without oil, Bryce says, we would all freeze in the dark.

In Bryce’s words:

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, all of the critical pieces of equipment were burning gasoline or diesel fuel: the pumps removing water from flooded basements and subway tunnels, the generators providing electricity to hospitals and businesses, and the cars, trucks and aircraft providing mobility.

The Sierra Club and its allies on the green left will doubtless continue their decades-long war on the oil and gas industry, but the Sandy disaster-response efforts are showing again that there is no substitute for oil. One of the first things that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie requested from the federal government after the storm was quick delivery of motor-fuel supplies. The Department of Defense responded with 250,000 gallons of gasoline and 500,000 gallons of diesel.

Of course, windmills are far less cost efficient than fossil fuels. Trying to replace the latter with the former is pure folly.

Bryce explains:

Let's consider what a wind-powered hospital in New York might look like. NYU's Langone Medical Center lost power shortly after Sandy hit. The hospital had diesel-fired emergency generators, but basement flooding caused them to fail. That required the evacuation of hundreds of patients.

Assume the hospital needs one megawatt of emergency electricity-generation capacity. Lives are at stake. It needs power immediately. That capability could easily be provided by a single, trailer-mounted diesel generator, which would occupy a small corner of the hospital's garage (and be safely removed from any flooding threat). By contrast, providing that much wind-generation capacity would require about 5.6 million square feet of land—an area of nearly 100 football fields. And all of that assumes that the land is available, the wind is blowing, and there are enough transmission lines to carry those wind-generated electrons from the countryside into Lower Manhattan.

And that’s not even counting how much all windmills damage human health.


David Foster said...

Important to note that very little oil is used for electricity generation (except in emergencies)...the leading sources are coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydropower (which is really a form of renewable solar energy.) ALL of these are under attack by environmentalists..nat gas has been temporarily out of most of their gunsights, but that is changing.

Low nat gas prices have been one of the few bright spots in the economy; they affect electricity prices as well as direct consumer use, but I'm afraid they're not going to stay this low. Increased industrial use for feedstocks and process heat (which is good--makes American manufacturing more competitive) in combination with sharply increased demand for power generation as Obama suppresses the coal industry, and reduced drilling in the face of environmentalist assaults...all these things are going to drive up the nat gas prices.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for the clarification... points well taken.