Replace Coal with Wind says Salazar

Offshore Wind Farm

Offshore Wind Farm

Today, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated that we need to replace most Coal Power with Wind power off the East Coast.  I love the thinking, I really do, but I'm afraid the rhetoric is a tad bit optimistic.  While this is a great, long term idea, we eventually have to wade through political posturing and into the depths of reality.

For instance, from the AP article that was picked up by Yahoo:

Salazar said ocean winds along the East Coast can generate 1 million megawatts of power, roughly the equivalent of 3,000 medium-sized coal-fired power plants, or nearly five times the number of coal plants now operating in the United States, according to the Energy Department.

Salazar could not estimate how many windmills might be needed to generate 1 million megawatts of power, saying it would depend on their size and how far from the coast they were located.

If you are ever going to make a statement like this, make sure :

  • a) you know an estimate of how many windmills would be needed to generate 1 million megawatts.
  • b) you refer to the generation capabilities in megawatt-hours, not megawatts!!!  Megawatts is an instantaneous, best-case scenario prediction, while MWh is the annual energy production you would use to compare coal to wind (apples to apples).

Don't get me wrong though.  I love the thinking, we just have to make sure our politicians are actually making statements that are achievable, and not just saying things that they know will be popular with  It is easy to be an idealist and repeat things just because they sound great, but it is hard to actually do the research and come up with a solution that is practical.  This is what I tried to do here with my blog on Carbon Capture and Storage, and what Scientific America did with their Solar Grand Plan.

Our "leaders" need  to start consulting with the experts and make statements that we can actually work towards achieveing, instead of just making sound bites.  PLEASE, encourage your friends and others interested in a Sustainable future to get educated on matters relating to Energy.  How else will people know how to make good decisions in their own lives and in the lives of the politicians they vote for?  I applaud Slazar for his vision, but I just wish he would read this blog a little bit more so he can state his vision a little clearer!

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