Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wind, Rising

Here's an interesting datapoint: According to the US Energy Information Agency, fully 50 percent of the net new electricity generation capacity added in 2008, was from wind power. (8,300 megawatts of a total of 19,000 megawatts of new capacity; but 2,600 megwatss worth of fossil-fuel capacity was retired.) This is very exciting; it's clear that, despite some truly foolish opposition (what's wrong with those people? wind turbines are beautiful), wind power has reached takeoff as a commercially viable industry.

If we are going to preserve a habitable planet, a big challenge is threading the line between complacency and despair. So it's important to balance the bad news about the scope of the problem, with good news about its solvability.

(If you want to bend the stick back the other way, you could pick up James Hansen's Storms of My Grandchildren and read the chapter on the Venus syndrome. Terrifying.)


  1. I happen to agree about wind turbines being beautiful.
    On a drive from Bayfield Ontario to Detroit this summer I passed some huge turbines near Sarnia Ontario.
    I had never seen one up close before, they are really cool. I would rather have a turbine in my backyard than a coal plant within 20 miles of my house.
    Great post Josh!

  2. Yes, I had a similar experience last year, driving past the San Gorgonio wind farm in southern CA. Just looking at the things you can see they're from a more advanced stage of civilization.