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View Diary: Wind power: birds, landscapes and availability (I) (128 comments)

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  •  A very good point... (4.00)
    We need power. The real question is how to get it while causing the least ecological damage.

    Hydropower is clean, but dams kill fish and flood towns, fields, canyons, etc.

    Coal = lots of BTU's, but ugly plants, acid rain, greenhouse gases, miners' deaths, etc.

    Nuclear = lots of BTU's, effecient and "clean," but ugly plants, creates toxic waste that will outlive all of us, statistically small but emotionally compelling risk of meltdowns, etc.

    Geothermal = wonderful, but geographically limited.

    You get the idea. There are tradeoffs in every decision. In some places, bird deaths and views might win out to defeat wind farms over other means of power generation; in some places not.

    And also, are we overvaluing the immediacy of some dead birds and loss of views now over the future possibility of many more dead birds, fish, and other species from global warming?

    •  Indeed (none)
      There are advances going on now (and have been for YEARS) for "cleaner" nuclear ('scuse me, nukular) power.  However, there have been no significant tests, and no experimental reactors have been built yet.

      I really do think we can't really judge the ecological damage, and overvalue immediate damage (a few dead birds here) over the less immediate (forest destruction from acid rain, we lost a massive forest in the NC mountains that way, it's all blasted and dead).

      Maybe we need to come up with a way to calculate a measure for ecological impact, with several dimensions.  That seems like a start to me.

    •  Issues (none)
      Coal: Pollution, global warming.  Ample resources.  
      Oil and gas: Global warming, less pollution, limited resources.  

      Wind: Kills birds, looks ugly.  Intermittent power.  
      Dams: Limited locales, kills fish, alters ecosystems.  
      Wave generators/current mills: Offshore and shoreline only, weather issues.  Affects wildlife?  

      Nuclear: Radioactive waste, weaponization.  Limited resources.  
      Fusion: Solutions not available.  

      Hydrogen: Not an energy SOURCE.  

      Microhydro: Limited applicability.  
      Solar: Daytime only.  Currently costly to produce cells, which are not very efficient and only pay for the energy used to produce them over years.  

      Geothermal: Natural sources are earthquake and volcanic activity prone.  Engineered solutions apparently CAUSE earthquakes!  

      Biomass

      My solutions:
      #1: Economical solar cells and wide-scale deployment in mixed use (AKA roofing) augmenting conventional power generation from mixed sources dominated by carbon-neutral biomass, biofuel, solar generated synthetic fuel, coal generation with gas sequestration, energy storage systems, and existing hydro.  Also, improved efficiency and sustainability in all aspects.  

      #2: Solar satellites.  No seasons, day-night cycles, weather, or shortage of sunlight in space.  

      •  Solar Satellites? (none)
        Isn't fusion likely to be available before we are able to deliver energy safely from a solar satellite?

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        by freelunch on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:34:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (none)
          In fact, there's at least one paper out there that makes sound scientific points that indicate that no human-scale efforts at pure fusion are likely to succeed, at least not for any scheme yet devised.  In a word, bremsstrahlung.  Fission-fusion hybrids may yield fruit though.  

          Nobody's ever tried to deliver energy from a solar sat AFAIK.  But the energy and our ability to harvest it is definitely there.  

      •  Except... (none)
        that the supposed negatives for winds are not true... (I'll write about intermittent power next)

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        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:52:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And I'll add (none)
          I think they look sexy.

          Loney towers of bleach white, jutting like some old bones of some forgotten behemoth, churning slowly with ageless determination.  I think they spice up many offshore locations and farmland.  It's not like central Kansas is THAT interesting on it's own... (not that Kansas is ugly, it's just... so damn flat and featureless).

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