On a particularly windy day in Denmark last Thursday, wind turbines were able to collect 140% of Danish electricity needs and export some to other European countries as well. This is causing some people to think wind power and other renewable energy sources might be sufficient to power the whole world:
“It shows that a world powered 100% by renewable energy is no fantasy,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for trade body the European Wind Energy Association. “Wind energy and renewables can be a solution to decarbonisation – and also security of supply at times of high demand.”
Well, let’s not break out the party favors and champagne quite yet. One particularly windy day is not a year’s worth of electricity. And with fluctuations in supply as varied as the wind, storage becomes a major issue. One of the reasons Denmark exported the excess of its collected electricity to Norway, Germany, and Sweden is because Denmark couldn’t easily store what it had collected.
That’s obviously a problem. I’m all for wind, water, tidal, and solar power. I think solar and tidal power makes more sense than wind power because of their constancy, but the technology is just not very cost effective at this point.
I’m not sure exactly why that’s the case. In pretty much every other area of technology, things have gotten better and cheaper. Things have moved much more slowly with renewable energy. Perhaps that’s because, in the United States at least, the civil government is not all that interested in seeing people become self-sufficient. The only way they would be willing to invest in wind power, would be if the civil government owns and controls most of it.
Perhaps that’s why renewable power in other countries is mostly government-subsidized. One way or the other, conservatives should not rule wind power out just because tree huggers and liberals seem to like it. Dependence on fossil fuels is not sustainable, and if we’re failing to plan now for a time when our current consumption of electricity cannot be satisfied, we’re planning to fail, as they say.