Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sensible Drilling: Gone With the Wind

Obama talks growth, but acts against it. He is stopping oil exploration and production. Because we can get our energy needs from renewable sources. Can we? If we cover the US in solar panels and wind generators. But none can be within sight or sound of any liberal or progressive. "That's different," they say. So where will be put 528,000 windmills? INTERIOR SECRETARY KEN SALAZAR, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S energy architect, apparently thinks the answer to all our energy worries is blowing in the wind. Salazar has slammed the brakes on efforts to develop vast new gas and oil fields offshore and in his home state of Colorado. During the campaign, candidate Obama said he would drill to find oil offshore. But Salazar now says he needs six months to formulate a comprehensive offshore-energy plan and to have "an open and honest conversation" about it with the American people. Increasingly, Salazar sounds like a man bedeviled by the winds. In speeches he suggests that huge wind turbines placed off major cities on the East and West Coasts will generate 1,900 gigawatts of clean and relatively cheap electric power, double the current total output of all U.S. power plants. He doesn't say how long it would take to achieve this. But if it were so, there would be no need to build new coal or nuclear plants. We would, in Salazar's rumination, simply breeze along. He must be thinking of a whole lot of windmills. I don't know for certain, because my multiple phone and e-mail entreaties for information from spokesman Frank Quimby went unanswered. But we can assume he is thinking half a million or more of the gigantic contraptions. I derive the estimate from a wind project planned off Nantucket involving 130 wind-driven turbines. These big machines will generate a total of 468 megawatts, which comes out to 3.6 megawatts per windmill, or .0036 gigawatts. Divide Salazar's 1,900 gigawatts by 0.0036 and the result is 528,000 windmills.

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