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December 13, 2006

Wind Turbines

Magnus Linklater:

Faced with climate change of this speed, where do we stand on wind farms? Is it any longer tenable to wring our hands about intrusive pylons when the very survival of the countryside we care so much about is at stake? More to the point, does the man from Lewis, whose moorland view is about to be disturbed, have the right to stand in the way of an energy producer, which is one of the only currently available sources that is free of carbon emissions?

Err, needs to be said, again, that windmills are not free of carbon emissions. Actually, over the full cycle, the have very much the same emissions as nuclear. Which means that exactly the same argument could be made about the siting of a nuclear plant or of a waste disposal centre.

I have a feeling that people wouldn't accept that with reference to nuclear (Suck it up for the planet!) so why should they for wind?

December 13, 2006 in Nuclear | Permalink


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It's like banging your head against a brick wall asking eco-warriors to understand reality.

Posted by: UK Daily Pundit | Dec 13, 2006 9:47:07 AM

What source currently powers the manufacture of windmills is a point of sorts, but seems to me nearly irrelevant. The axiom is that energy production should be transitioned from greenhouse gas emitting to non-greenhouse gas emitting. If all our power came from windmills, obviously windmills would be CO2-free even by your definition.

The only relevant point your observation could possibly be construed to mean is that the greenhouse-gas cost of the transition should be monitored and optimized. That's not what you're trying to say, though. I should think this cost is obviously irrelevant, though.

Unless you're suggesting it's somehow hipocritical to not fold all fossil fuel energy production, and attempt to bootstrap our way back up through the industrial age without them. Free from "original sin" as it were. (obviously you're not, I'm just finishing the argument - I hope it doesn't catch on)

As a quibble, implying someone is foolish to prefer wind power to nuclear power seems itself an indefensible position. Isn't it obviously better to get our power from wind (and solar) farms instead of nuclear plants, because of the problem of waste? Once there is a ranking, it's perfectly reasonable to imagine a utility function that can accept wind but not nuclear.

I agree that it's a reasonable educated guess that that it will have to be nuclear for all sorts of pragmatic reasons. I wouldn't call it obvious, though; I think a couple of unprecedentedly massive (but feasible?) tide power projects may well be able to set the UK up, should anyone ever care to actually invest.

Posted by: zgatt | Dec 13, 2006 1:05:49 PM

"transitioned": what sort of sodding English is that, zgatt?

Posted by: dearieme | Dec 13, 2006 6:13:20 PM

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