As the United States moves deeper into the 21st century, our energy needs are growing while the amount of inexpensive fuel at our deposal decreases. This shortage is due to the increased world demand from emerging economies of India, China and the Third World – one could say the law of Supply of Demand is truly in effect. Take last summer’s s astronomical rise in gas prices that gripped our country as a good example.
So, our need as a nation to explore alternate avenues of inexpensive and renewable energy is not only a high priority for our economical stability, but a component in our own National Security. So, I was extremely excited when I read President George Bush’s speech at the Renewable Energy Conference on Oct 12, 2006 stating that the United States needed to severe our dependency on oil and explore new energy sources. Finally we are on the right path to become self reliant again and not worry if the next Middle East conflict will cut off our energy needs.
Much to my delight, I was quite please to learn that Mr. Obama was going to continue what President Bush started by looking for alternate resources for our energy needs – Solar, Geo-Thermal, Hydro Electric, Nuclear, Bio-Fuels, and Wind Power.
The first step is to look at wind as resource. A recent report from the Interior Department announced that wind farms could supply 20-25% of the electricity for majority of the East Coast. These wind farms could generate up to 1000 gigawatts of electricity. Not only could these farms have the potential to supply three-fourths of the United States’ electricity demand, but could lower our carbon emissions, a win-win situation.
The wind farms would reside in shallow-water and it looks like from the study that 71 percent of the nations wind resources are between North Carolina and Delaware. As a resident of Virginia I found this possibility for our local economy and energy needs exciting.
However, as a realist I find this project utterly ridiculous and an irresponsible use of tax payers. I give two words why this project will not only fail but would cost the tax payers imminence amount of money each year in repairs and construction costs – Hurricanes and Nor’easters.
One designated area for these farms is the Outer Banks of North Carolina or previous know as the Grave of the Atlantic. This nickname, which the Outer Banks sorely deserves, originates from the 1500 ships that sunk over the last 300 years in its waters due to the strong off shore winds. Even the Wright Brothers found the winds as a resource by launching their historical fight from the fields of Kittyhawk.
These shores are not only a great source of wind, but are also the ideal place for the creation of Nor’easter storms that tendto race right up the Virginia, Maryland, Delaware coast into New England.
Like Hurricanes, Nor’easter storms are nothing to sneeze at, they pack high winds, punishing surf, and heavy rains, and depending on the time of year even deadly snow/ice. The winds from these storms can in some cases reach up to 80 mph.
The wind farms consist of tower that jets 328 feet into the air like a #2 pencil with a turbine that has a diameter as large a 747 airplane. A nice size Hurricane or Nor’easter could easily break these turbines like tooth picks. If Hurricane Katrina could move large off shore oil derricks that are anchored in the sea bed and not nearly as high while weighed down with several hundreds of tons several miles then image what it would due to a wind farm. The results from a storm would devastate the farm. People would be picking up turbines up and down the East Coast. This danger would not only occur one, but year in and year out.
What type of cost will the tax payer have to incur year after year to repair these facilities from storm damage and then added in additional costs of the environmental cleanup from broken turbines on our beaches or coastlines? We are talking millions and millions of dollars per year. Will the energy cost savings these wind farms generated be enough to offset the rebuilding and clean up cost? I don’t think so. So those costs would fall on you and me – the tax payer.
So cheap energy has now turned into expensive energy and again fossil fuels look to be the better alternative. My suggestion would be to move these farms to mountain tops and other areas that the severe hand of Mother Nature cannot reach.
Although a good first step in finding an alternative source of energy, I just hope that the Federal Government and this Administration use their heads before sinking tax payer money into a potential money pit. These type of ideas need to be vetted by many viewpoints before they reach the public form.