Photo by Charles Cook on flickr
I think wind power is terrific.
On an ICE Express train trip a couple years ago from Berlin to Heidelberg, I gazed, fixated, out the windows at the distant wind farms. The turbines were spinning peacefully in a field. Many parts of the world have accepted wind farms as parts of their landscape, strangely beautiful and peaceful, and also symbolic of a better, cleaner future.
As the US struggles with a shift in the way we produce energy, there is a large opportunity for “benevolent” capitalism to play a hand in greening the States. Yesterday, billionaire T. Boone announced a wind farm that will provide enough electricity initially for 300,000 homes, a number which is expected grow to 1.2 million by 2015. Not only that, but people willing to place turbines on their property will receive royalties of about 20K annually.
Paying people to put turbines on their property is a good idea in a country where money talks.
Wind has downsides in how flexible it is to locate, as well as resistance from communities about perceived visual disruption. It has been used in the United States, mostly, in large tracts of remote land. But some companies are developing small-scale wind that runs more quietly and is visually attractive enough to bring turbines to public places. Quiet Revolution, for instance, makes a vertical-axis turbine which is safer and more flexible, and can even be placed on top of city buildings, where the wind is turbulent.
As the price of fuel-based energy continues to skyrocket, renewable energy will become more and more attractive. It can’t happen soon enough. And it will be much more pleasant to drive (or, perhaps, pass by high-speed train) by than this: