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Well put Frank, belying your "non-expert" status.

  1.  One of the ways lobbying power comes to the "weak" is bottom up; in this case, because of the tremendous economic advantage to windy localities, there is a natural power base beginning with local governments.  In the past two years i have seen numbers of state and local governments visiting EU conclaves to encourage European firms to invest in their locales.  Pennsylvania has made huge deals to secure Gamesa facilities in their states, and Iowa, Texas, Oregon and Minnesota have made concerted efforts to lure EU companies.  Even non-windy Arkansas managed to lure a Vestas (or was it LM?) blade facility, because of available, relatively low cost workers, and ease of shipping to different wind regions.  Many states are playing catch-up.

  2.  The pressure on the federal gov is intense already.  This week the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which controls the grid and power plants) allowed California's PUC to establish their program of grid infrastructure build out aimed at alleviating the logjam on wind projects backed up because of no grid access.  This alone will build out some 5,000 MWs of wind in california in the next five years or so.

  3.  The number of jobs created during these past few boom years is not going unnoticed; and the industry does have wide bi-partisan support because politicians seem to think that jobs are a good thing (if they don't form damn unions and ask for reasonable wages).  In fact, the only opposition in congress (i hate to give it the dignity of its rightful name, so at least no capital letter) are those already bought by the vested energy companies.

  4. The quality of electricity issue is taken care of by upgrading the decrepit grid with current technology, nothin new or different.  Smart Grids are designed to address all the issues you bring up, without a separate infrastructure.  You just use the wires to also transmit data back and forth, including turn-down or turn-off instruction; or from the other direction, turn-on, 'cuz nows the cheap time to recharge.

  5.  Redundancy costs?  Any time the marginal gas plants already there don't run, they are avoiding the likely staggering fuel costs of the future.  That's a value, bolstered by their ability to be turned on when needed.

  6.  When the grid is a mix of AC and DC, transmission losses diminish.  There is a corelation between where the wind blows and where people and industry aren't, so that ain't gonna change.  Getting the power to where it's needed will cost something, but all the studies show it's profitable.  In fact, that's exactly why ERCOT just enabled a huge increase in Texas transmission facilities to interconnect with the small non-Texas part of the US.

  7.  Intermittency:  You're basically right, but the issue must be addressed from a different angle.  Until there is grid penetration of windpower nearing 20% of capacity, given the existing plants already online, experience over years in Europe shows there is no issue.  Intermittency only becomes a problem over a threshold point, but a problem with many solutions that are not expensive.  But that's only considering wind as stand-alone.  When you build in the other technologies, particularly solar electric, the issue virtually disappears.  Add storage technologies like compressed air, and vavavoom.

I'll save hydrogen for another topic, as i didn't have time to write what i just did.  Or did i?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaďs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 18th, 2008 at 03:08:49 PM EST
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