On Earth Day the “Windies” gusted, and John Muir spun. The marriage of convenience between environmentalists – the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, the American Bird Conservancy, Greenpeace, and the Audubon Society – and industrial wind power projects offends the principles of both science and conservation.
Wind power is retrograde, a technological dinosaur. It only generates within a narrow range of wind speeds, is intermittent, produces best when needed least (nighttime), doesn’t play well with others (see “intermittent”), destroys scenic vistas, remorselessly kills birds (endangered or otherwise), and is and will continue to be prohibitively expensive. Although wind power has a very low capacity factor (25%) compared to nuclear (over 90%), coal (around 80%), natural gas (used primarily for load following, 60%), or hydro (50%), it is much better than solar (under 20%).
For example, between Maryland and West Virginia there is potential for around 2000 wind turbines, each nearly 500-feet tall; they would be placed atop 400 miles of the Allegheny Mountain ridges. About 20 acres of forest must be clear cut to support each turbine—4-6 acres to allow free flow of wind per turbine; one or more large staging areas for each wind project; access road construction; and a variety of substations and transmission lines. Cumulatively, about 40,000 acres of CO² sequestering woodlands containing rare habitat and many vulnerable wildlife species would be destroyed.
Local environmentalists used the California Coastal Commission to annihilate my home-town Gualala’s modest fireworks display by demonstrating that a few nesting pairs of seabirds were disturbed. I doubt any of these environmentalists have voiced objections to the thousands of eagles and raptors killed, not just disturbed, by the Altamont Pass wind farm, or the thousands of migratory birds and sea birds killed annually worldwide. On the contrary, most “environmentalists” turn a blind eye to such carnage.