Apropos of your recent correspondence I would like to contribute some facts regarding wind power, and in general the transition away from carbon dioxide emission, which will fairly soon render much …
Apropos of your recent correspondence I would like to contribute some facts regarding wind power, and in general the transition away from carbon dioxide emission, which will fairly soon render much of the world un-inhabitable due to unbearable temperature rise combined with humidity.
To date the oceans have absorbed 90 percent of the additional heat that we have caused to be trapped at the Earth’s surface due to carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere. Once heat has worked down to the ocean floor the whole thing warms up like a pan of hot water on a stovetop. Burning one gallon of gasoline sends the atmospheric column above an area of 37 square feet of Earth’s surface into dangerous carbon dioxide overdrive. Carbon dioxide takes 200 years or more to abate naturally due to carbon fixation by trees etc. and absorption to a degree by the sea, which becomes acidified in the process.
The two main acceptable energy sources available today, wind and solar, have easily the potential to replace all of our present day fossil fuel use and already are cost-competitive. In contradiction of statements made by a prolific contributor to your paper, in the whole lifecycle of a wind farm, from manufacture through to de-commissioning, the carbon dioxide released per kilowatt hour of energy produced is as low as nuclear and about 40 times lower than that from electricity production fueled by natural gas, references below.
Wind speeds off Martha’s Vineyard, taken at hourly intervals, average 10 metres per second (22mph) at the turbine hub height, with only 11 percent of hourly wind speeds being below four metres per second, their low speed cut-off. The New England Independent System Operator grid that extends from Maine to Connecticut is designed to smooth out fluctuations. In Europe there are already installed 4,543 offshore turbines contributing 18,500MW (in 2019) to meet energy demands. Here in the US we only have six.
What are the downsides of wind power? Firstly, possible disturbance to sea creatures. Pile driving’s effect on fishes and mammals has been thoroughly studied in Europe and underwater impacts are reduced by way of a curtain of bubbles pumped around the site, or a hollow jacket of steel filled with air, because gas cannot transmit much acoustic energy.
Secondly, underwater cables using direct current do not emit radio waves and there are only very short-range (up to two feet) magnetic fields around the buried cable, hence no impact on seafloor life.
Thirdly, the flight patterns of birds and bats in the zone southwest of Martha’s Vineyard have been studied, with the data being used up-front to determine which areas the government could lease.
Lastly, the visual impact will only be an issue on clear days, with the tips of the blades slowly moving across the horizon.
Publications: “How many offshore wind turbines does New England need?” H. G. Livingston and J. K. Lundquist, Meteorological Applications (2020); “Lifecycle Costs and Carbon Emissions of Offshore Wind Power”, C. Thomson and G. Harrison, ClimateXchange (2015).
Dr. Malcolm McGeoch, physicist