Serious Solutions, No Feelgood

Finland is enacting laws that lead to building some more wind power. Like some professionals in the Finnish wind power association, Suomen tuulivoimayhdistys, have told me, perhaps the most important thing about wind power is that you have to be smart about what and where you build.

The wastelands of dead windmills in the California deserts are a result of subsidizing the building of very immature technology, with little concern for actual electricity production.

Wind power can be useful for energy production and CO2 emissions reduction, but it must be built with operation in mind. Finland and the whole Nordpool market operates with a power generation mix that includes possibilities of reducing CO2 emissions by just injecting wind power to the market when there is wind.

If Finland is serious about deploying large amounts of wind power, offshore is the way. The winter sea ice is a hard problem. Lighthouses have washed away in the fifties because of moving thick sea ice. It is even possible that  wind power in icy sea conditions is simply not profitable in the near term, even with high subsidies. It also might be that because of the very high cost of the foundations per mill, the optimal unit size is far bigger than in warmer waters. This all would require a methodical approach with multi-year testing programs of different foundations and possibly different turbine paradigms. (Sort of how the current wind turbines enjoy the methodical research programs and various large prototypes of the nineties.) So a decade perhaps from start to deployment, at rapid pace, starting immediately.

The other thing, like the major parties have been saying, is nuclear power. In an energy mix, this can push out the fossils out, approaching from the bottom instead of the top like wind power. If current trends continue, there will be a few more nukes soon. If I recall correctly Mauri Pekkarinen, the trade and industry minister from the center party commented how the next nuclear power plants would replace, roughly one each, electricity imports (from Russia), old nukes (that have to be retired in the future decades), and fossil fuel plants. Perhaps that is not entirely correct and gives little possibility for energy conservation or renewables, but I actually view it as a rough and dim picture of a not worst possible future.

So, in summary: be careful about how you encourage and where you build big wind – otherwise it’s just a nuisance – and also, build some nukes (keep the regulatory body in good control of them).

I am a fan of wind power – correctly built wind power. And so are the people at Tuulivoimayhdistys – they are professionals after all. Lawmakers should listen to them very carefully, when deciding what kind of subsidies to make.

I’ve seen some talk how in USA the Democrats that currently hold power are proposing methods of CO2 cuts completely based on renewables. This seems unrealistic to me. Too bad the Republicans, when they were in power, did nothing to make CO2 cuts. Now they can just complain about the methods.

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One Response to Serious Solutions, No Feelgood

  1. Truthwalker says:

    Subsidy is a form of negative tax. I think the shaping force of both positive and negative taxes is undervalued. Without tax there there would be no United States. (No Boston Tea Party). No Mansard roof (created to avoid tax). No galleons (Tax restrictions on deck size.) etc.

    Before we start subsidizing alternate forms of power, I wish we would stop subsidizing standard forms of power. Free markets often work…if we let them.

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