Sunday, November 12, 2017

I have been more than a little bit skeptical about wind and solar power for years. At UT, there was a joint experiment between the University of Tennessee, TVA, and some other solar energy hopefuls, who built to demo houses for 'testing' and 'experimentation.' These houses were built on Alcoa Highway, a very visible location between the Knoxville airport and the downtown area which included UT.


The conspicuous location served to prove that all those entities – in the 1970s – were pioneering in the new advent of solar power, which was garnering headlines across the nation in light of the Arab Oil Embargo to which the entire nation was in thrall. The two houses were the size of subdivision residences which would house a single-family of a married couple who had two children. Both of the houses had solar panels on the roof, but one of the houses was a super-insulated model to exhibit current techniques to minimize energy usage, while the other used an energy transfer system which employed an enormous block of ice upon which the house was set. There was a super-efficient heat pump to freeze the ice in the winter and to melt the ice in the summer, keeping the house temperature at a livable value throughout the year.


These houses were highly visible indicators that the government was 'doing something' about energy conservation. They probably learned a few simple things, but the cost of those houses was probably quadruple the money that could have been spent to learn the exact same thing in a different way. I do not remember how much they cost and how much energy they used.


Wind energy is of that same ilk. These intensely expensive 'wind farms' are a financial disaster and a annoying eyesore in the scenic locations where they are placed. Their only reason for being is to get a tax write off for whomever it is that is building them.


Only governments can afford to throw money away on obviously wasteful windmills which are very expensive to build and require enormous amounts of maintenance for relatively small amounts of energy produced. Windmills in Holland perform a useful service for that society – they are pumps to drain the low lands (nearly all Holland is at or below sea level, hence the dikes) and to make dry land where there once was swamp. Windmills in the US for electricity production are an expensive boondoggle.


The Wall Street Journal published a short editorial piece on the efforts by Republicans in Congress to continue with the support funding of the dumb windmill project. I am a Republican and agree mostly with the way they want to spend money, but funding more windmills is absolutely stupid. They should be allowed to go the of the dodo bird.