While the Albuquerque Journal often does a poor job of covering oil and gas/energy issues, a gem appeared in today’s paper. Two scientists from the Los Alamos Education Group debunked windmills (favored solutions of Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens) as a primary source of energy.
As the scientists point out:
In 2006, the Energy Information Agency published the total national electrical demand at 580,000 megawatts; about 50 percent comes from coal, 20 percent from natural gas and 20 percent from nuclear power. Natural gas provides a little over 100,000 megawatts.
Windmills are proposed to provide the power now obtained from natural gas. If each windmill generates three megawatts, over 33,000 windmills would be required to replace natural gas or nuclear power, when the wind is blowing at the correct velocity.
Because the operating record for getting electricity from windmills is only a third of the time, three times as many would be needed, still with no assurance of constant, adequate supply.
Additionally, modification of the electric grid system would be necessary to collect and distribute windmill energy. At two acres per windmill, the footprint would be enormous and the electrical energy would replace only the natural gas-generated power.
The scientists propose nuclear power as the most logical solution for our electricity generation needs. While I have no reason to disagree with this as a proposed solution, it would be great to allow market forces to work in order to see what the best option might be.