The World As I See It

FactCheck.org: Hot Air on Wind Energy

Posted by SteveB on April 18, 2009

Interior Secretary Salazar said that the amount of “developable” wind power off the East Coast could produce more energy than all the coal-fired electric plants in the U.S., and that wind’s potential to replace most of our coal power “is a very real possibility.” We find his claims to be wildly optimistic, to say the least.

It’s true that government studies show there’s enough offshore wind to generate far more than coal plans currently do – in theory. But converting that wind to enough electricity to replace what’s now produced by coal won’t happen anytime in the foreseeable future. The Interior Department itself made clear its offshore wind estimate was a gross figure of potential resources only, saying in a report that there are several obstacles to achieving that.

We calculate that converting wind to enough electricity to replace all U.S. coal-fired plants would require building 3,540 offshore wind farms as big as the world’s largest, which is off the coast of Denmark. So far the U.S. has built exactly zero offshore wind farms.

Another government study last year concluded that to supply just 20 percent of U.S. electricity with wind turbines would require land-based equipment taking up an area “slightly less than the area of Rhode Island,” plus scores of offshore wind farms.

A Salazar spokesman says the secretary did not mean to say that replacing coal power with offshore wind power was a realistic goal, but was only trying to draw attention to its potential.

Click on the link for the entire article.

FactCheck.org: Hot Air on Wind Energy.

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