Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Those Inconvenient Tradeoffs

I have to start by admitting my personal bias. When wind turbines were first proposed as an alternative energy source in the 1970s, I thought that they destroyed some of the most beautiful scenery in California. The small picture at the center right is of the San Gorgonio Pass between the Mojave desert and the Los Angeles basin. Apparently, the same debate is occurring elsewhere. The John Muir Trust is one of the leading environmental organizations in the U.K., and apparently they are concerned about the effect of wind farms on scenic vistas, especially in Scotland, as can be seen in a picture from the Daily Mail just above. The Muir Trust has recently released a statistical study arguing that wind farms are much less efficient than their supporters in the wind turbine industry and certain governments claim. The Muir Trust report claims that, at least in Scotland, they operate at lower overall levels of output, and with longer periods of "low wind events" than supporters of wind energy admit. The full report from the Muir Trust, together with complete links to their data, can be found here. A BBC report on the political debate on the report between the Muir Trust and advocates of wind farms in the U.K. can be found here. (Thanks to NCPA for the tip about the controversy).

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