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  • Wind Doesn’t Work

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on July 6th, 2012 (All posts by )

    For Whole Foods, “environmentalism” means supporting wind power, and saying that their stores are “100% powered by wind”. What this likely means is that they buy power from renewable suppliers, paying an additional fee since that sort of energy is more expensive (unless massively subsidized by the government).

    Power, however, cannot be economically stored. Thus the real time when you want power is when it is brutally hot outside, which in the Midwest often means little breeze and an overhead haze (which makes solar less economical). This means relying on traditional “base load” resources like coal, nuclear, or natural gas fired fleets.

    When I walked into that Whole Foods it was a cold as a meat locker, and the flags hung limply in the breeze. Wind power wasn’t supporting Whole Foods when it was most needed; wind power blows whenever the wind blows, unreliably.

    My suggestion to environmentalists is to just move their support of causes to the next level; the same way that vegetarians don’t eat meat, those that do not support reliable base load power (coal, nuclear, gas) along with the necessary (unsightly) transmission infrastructure to bring the power into your city (since having a plant near the city is usually out of the question due to noise and emissions), should TURN OFF THEIR AIR CONDITIONING AND THEIR ELECTRONIC DEVICES during times of extreme heat. After all, this is what that hated infrastructure is buying – reliability and power during peak loads.

    Like those that pine for a diverse society yet move to far flung mono-cultural suburbs, those that value their environmentalist credentials above all should start “living the sweat lifestyle” that they believe in. Turn off that air conditioner, and don’t be part of that peak consumption, which in turn justifies the base load power in the first place.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    17 Responses to “Wind Doesn’t Work”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      I got yer wind right here, pal.

    2. Nicholas Says:

      Why would they want to do what you suggest?

      The current situation is perfect for them. They can smugly claim that they support renew-ables while still enjoying the reliability that comes from coal, gas and oil fired power plants. As long as their claims are convincing enough to mollify some chumps and make them shop at their store, what do they care?

      In today’s political environment, Hypocrisy pays…

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Yes, don’t do anything foolish while you are waiting for theme to agree. Like holding your breath.

    4. PenGun Says:

      You can store power but it’s difficult. If you have any kind of hydro power locally you can use wind energy to add potential energy to water. You can use excess power from intermittent sources in many ways including breaking up water to produce useful fuel. We are just staring on this kind of thing and using many power sources is better than using just a few.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      I don’t think it’s generally hypocrisy. I think it’s buying indulgences by talking the talk and making token sacrifices. This is a very common human behavior. You don’t see things their way since you’re operating outside of their frame, but to them it makes perfect sense. They probably see themselves as doing more for an important cause than are other people, and therefore they might be more likely to see someone like you as having bad intentions for questioning their behavior, rather than seeing you as a dispassionate observer whose skepticism should spur them to re-evaluate what they are doing.

      Of course for green movement leaders it probably really is hypocrisy, but those people are a tiny minority of the very large group of people who consider themselves environmentalists.

    6. Ginny Says:

      Well, Jonathan, as Franklin observed, it is good that man is reasonable, because then he can find so many reasons to do exactly as he wants. He wants to feel good about himself, of course. And he wants to be comfortable. Few are conscious hypocrites – we are all less self-conscious than we might be. The environmentalists just seem to have perfected that way of not thinking.

    7. Whitehall Says:

      As soon as Whole Foods announced their commitment to “green” electricity, they raised the price of their muffins from $1.95 to $2.29.

      Coincidence? I think not.

    8. -flatlander- Says:

      One of the great ironies of the green movement is their general opposition to natural gas, which alone has the potential for greater and quicker impact on reducing pollution than all of the alternatives combined. Apparently because “gas” is a 3 letter word and it comes out of the ground.

      Form over substance.

    9. Carl from Chicago Says:

      Flatlander – the greens are against EVERYTHING. They don’t explain it that way, but in the end that is the result. Note their resistance even to wind turbines when it blocks their view.

    10. Lexington Green Says:

      The point of the Greens is that we should regress technogically to a world that will support a fraction of its present population. The survivors will be the enlightened few, the Greens themselves. The rest of the people are human garbage and are intended to die. The Green ideology is genocidal. They have zero intention of giving anything up. They know that humans who lack an elevated consciousness are a sickening, pus-filled tumor on the earth, i.e. people like you, your family, and those who think like you. Your deaths will be a cleansing of the Earth. There is no lack of consistency. Their utopia requires your destruction.

    11. dave ward Says:

      “Saying that their stores are “100% powered by wind””

      Unless they have a completely separate distribution system this claim is a blatant lie. I would have no problem with the Greenies if they genuinely ONLY got their power from renewable resources. Here in the UK we have had several successive winters when wind has contributed less than 0.1% of our requirements for over a week continuously, and each time the temperatures have been close to or below freezing. If they had to suffer little or no heating and lighting for weeks on end, I think these claims would soon vanish…

    12. Elfsta Says:

      “We are just staring on this kind of thing and using many power sources is better than using just a few.”

      Thank you PenGun. Do you mind if we use ourselves of the many fossil fuel solutions that actually exist and are feasible economically while you’re getting warmed up?

    13. Dan from Madison Says:

      While in France on a cycling trip last week we went past a bunch of windmills that were absolutely still. It was a very hot day. I noted to the guys close to me that this was why we need not only wind power, but 100% backup. They didn’t understand – when I asked them if they were willing to turn off the air conditioning that evening (it was brutally hot) they got it pretty well.

    14. Dan from Madison Says:

      And as far as that our stores are 100% powered by wind, that is a plain ‘ol lie. What really happened is that most likely the Whole Foods stores pay a higher rate/supplement to their utility for a wind power option. Madison Gas and Electric offers it here. Of course there is no way (quite literally) for the utility or a customers to know where the power actually comes from.

    15. morgan Says:

      Lex, agree 100%.

    16. Tom Says:

      Haze actually makes solar panels work better. ThInk about how the risk of sunburn is increase during hazy days. Same concept

    17. David Foster Says:

      “Whole Foods 100% powered by wind” might be a true statement if electricity were a commodity that could be practically stored in large quantities. If WF wanted to sell cheese and wine from France and advertise that the ocean journey was “100% wind powered”…and acquire a fleet of sailing vessels for the transportation…then the “wind powered” claim would be true. I’d might even let them off the hook for using an engine to leave and enter port.

      But electricity is NOT such a commodity. and hence WF’s claim is in my view a misrepresentation.