There’s been a lot of sneering and nay-saying at wind power, and a lot of that has been deserved. Wind power isn’t a magic bullet that will save us all from using petroleum. It can’t take the place of coal, and that was the big beef when wind farms started popping up: that they couldn’t replace carbon fuels.
This is the kind of simplistic thinking that humans are vulnerable to. Humans like simple, one-off solutions without complications; we’re not big fans of multifaceted solutions that take time and advance gradually. Our brains are simply too small to enjoy them.
But…these solutions do have impact anyway. We do listen to scientists sometimes, and sometimes we have thrown enough time and resources at a gradual solution to glean the benefits even after we’ve thrown up our hands and gone off after something shinier. This could be the case with wind power, especially here in the West.
There are groups, in Boulder for instance, who believe that enough protests will fix “the problem” of energy, that if we just shut down all the coal plants tomorrow the world will transform into an idyllic paradise with cartoon butterflies and no more pollution. But the work is much harder than that. To overcome dependence on the finite resource of fossil fuels will take lots of research and work and time and a long, long transition that will sometimes hurt, in a financial sense.
And still…wind power continues to make a showing, and it’s looking better and better. According to Colorado Energy News, “Today’s 60,007 MW is enough clean, affordable, American wind power to power the equivalent of almost 15 million homes, or the number in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined,” Wind power in 2012, “…for the first time became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity,”
In April we’ll get last year’s complete numbers from AWEA’s annual report. For now, it’s good to know that renewable energy sources in 2012 “…accounted for over 55 percent of all new U.S. generating capacity,” as stated in this report on CEN.
That’s not a one-off solution. And wind power is not all of renewable energy.
There are no cartoon butterflies poised to descend on a petroleum-free world.
But it’s an excellent start.