Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Jersey's Pilgrim Pipeline vs. Atlantic City Offshore Wind Farm: It Shouldn’t Be Either/Or

A December 27, 2014 letter published in the New Jersey Star-Ledger called for stopping a petroleum pipeline in favor of a wind project. Linda DeLap wrote:

Explosive and corrosive tar sands oil would be forced through a pipeline over land that provides drinking water for millions of people and then through densely populated communities. . . . Will rich investors profit? Instead of subsidizing extraction, transport, and refining of dirty tar sands oil, New Jersey should be investing in clean energy.

Fishermen’s Energy’s proposed off-shore wind farm, as reported Dec. 24 in The Star-Ledger, could revitalize Atlantic City and generate millions of dollars for New Jersey’s economy. Let’s support that project, not the Pilgrim Pipeline.

I left these comments:

First, let’s dispel the myth of “clean” wind energy. Wind energy requires massive mining, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure construction, and maintenance operations—all of it dependent on fossil fuel equipment—and has horrific pollution consequences.

Second, notice the dishonest double-talk. The Pilgrim Pipeline will get no subsidies. In fact, it will be profitable, as Linda Delap readily acknowledges. The “investment” in the wind farm is really public subsidies financed by taxpayers and electric ratepayers. Real investment is what Pilgrim will do.

Finally, wind energy could never sustain us. We wouldn’t even have regular clean water. Very little clean water exists in nature. Most of it comes to us via massive water purification and delivery systems that depend on reliable energy sources—my private well included. Wind has intractable, major drawbacks; diluteness, intermittency, and lack of scalability; which means, it can not provide continuous base-load, variable, reliable on-demand energy. All so-called “clean, renewable” energy, even if it can be built profitably without subsidies, needs reliable “backup” from either fossil or nuclear. With or without wind farms, oil pipelines are still needed. Approve both the Pilgrim Pipeline and the Wind Farm with authentic private investments only, no subsidies.

Delap’s letter proves once again that “renewable energy” advocates are motivated by dogmatic opposition to fossil fuels, not any concern for the energy needs of human beings. We shouldn’t be suppressing any energy technology.

Related Reading:

In China, the true cost of Britain's clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale—SIMON PARRY in China and ED DOUGLAS in Scotland


Steve D said...

...clean” wind energy...

Wind doesn’t even succeed in its major goal, reducing CO2 emissions. In many situations using wind power does not decrease and may actually increase CO2 emissions. As Robert Hargraves does the math in his book; “Thorium: Energy Cheaper than Coal”, this is because wind is intermittent and needs to be backed up by another more reliable source such as coal or natural gas. However, changing the output of coal plants is slow and inefficient and so to make sure that electricity production does not suffer during wind lulls, coal plants have to continue to burn coal and vent high pressure steam even when they are contributing less or no electricity. An even worse situation occurs with certain types of gas turbines which are so problematic to dial back and at low levels of output that they actually end up producing more CO2 – kind of like what happens when you idle a car.

Steve D said...

Which is of course, simply more evidence that all this environmentalism is ideologically motivated - nothing to do with helping people or the environment.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

“In many situations” may be the key phrase here. From what I’ve read, whether or not wind power actually reduces CO2 emissions depends on how it is integrated into the electrical grid. Of course, I’m no expert on wind power.

Steve D said...

The main issue for wind is how to deal with its unreliability (although as you mentioned, energy density is another strike against it) and so a lot depends on what power source you choose to fill in the gaps. It has to be able to quickly and efficiently raise or lower its output. As Hargraves explains, coal and natural gas are not ideal marriages with wind but hydroelectric is. That said; hydroelectric wins in so many other ways. The problem is we’re running out of places to build dams.
The key is cost which can only be adjusted by the free market. People who care about the environment have to realize this. Coal is the cheapest form of energy today, especially in the US but natural gas runs a very close second (and is safer and emits much less CO2). Wind and solar, whatever other benefits they may or may not confer are several time more expensive. They would never compete in a free market and forcing them upon the world would create a disaster of unbelievable proportions, especially for the poor.

Steve D said...

Whoops I meant 'adjudicated' by the free marked.