Don't Breeze Into Billion-Dollar Wind Projects

'Heedless investment' could provoke an ethanol-like blowback, writer asserts
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Sep 28, 2008 1:04 PM CDT
Wind is surely a solid alternative power source, but the US needs to plan carefully and not turn it into a poorly regulated disaster as it did with ethanol, Matthew Quirk writes in the Atlantic.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Wind promises a practical source of renewable energy, but if the US doesn’t develop it properly, it’ll face another ethanol-like morass, warns Matthew Quirk in the Atlantic. Efforts like T. Boone Pickens’ $10 billion Texas wind farm are misguided. “Wind power is unlikely to cause a global food crisis,” Quirk writes. “But heedless investment in it may provoke blowback of a different sort.”

Wind blows hardest where few people live, requiring costly, inefficient transmission to cities. It’s also scarce on days it’s needed most, and thus requires backup. “The way to address our greenhouse-gas problems is not to champion wind or any other ‘silver bullet,’” Quirk asserts. “It’s to pass a national carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, and let the market find the most efficient way to cut emissions and reduce our dependence on oil.”