Wind Could Provide 50 Percent of NYC Power


NEW YORK—Oil prices are rising, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas may threaten the water supply, and, since Japan’s nuclear disaster this year, New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant seems doomed for closure.

Many experts agree that a backup power generation plan is needed.

At a Climate Week NYC conference on Saturday, Stanford University professor of civil and environmental engineering Mark Jacobson turned New York state’s energy distribution upside down: wind power, which currently generates less than 1 percent of the state’s power, became the dominant fuel source in Jacobson’s model.

“There’s enough [wind] power for New York state to provide all electricity three times over, if you consider offshore, onshore, and the lakes,” said Jacobson, who attended the conference via Skype.

According to his calculations and those of his students, New York state’s electricity demand could be met using 50 percent wind power, 30 percent solar power, 18 percent hydroelectric, and 2 percent geothermal.

According to a New York Independent Systems Operator report, the state’s power supply in 2010 was 63 percent gas and oil, 7 percent coal, 14 percent nuclear, 15 percent hydroelectric, 1 percent other renewable sources, and less than 1 percent wind power.

If nothing else, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is determined to change that 14 percent nuclear figure. Cuomo has thwarted attempts by Indian Point nuclear plant operator, Entergy, to renew operating permits that expire in 2013 and 2015.

“There is no doubt we need replacement power if we are to close Indian Point,” wrote Cuomo in an online town meeting this weekend, according to the New York Post and The Daily News. “There is also no doubt that we can find it.”

A Post editorial criticizes Cuomo, calling the governor “enviro-zany” and asking where the funds to establish renewable energy would come from.

Most commercial-scale turbines cost roughly $3.5 million, according to Windustry, a nonprofit organization that educates farmers and homeowners about wind power.

Wind power cost less than other energy sources up until 2008, when wholesale electricity prices dropped and the cost of wind power surpassed other sources, according to a 2010 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report. 

DOE attributes the drop in electricity prices in part to the recession-induced decrease in demand, and in part to the discovery and development of natural gas reserves in shale.

The report notes, however,“Neither the wind nor wholesale electricity prices presented in this section reflect the full social costs of power generation and delivery. Specifically, the wind power prices are suppressed by virtue of federal and, in some cases, state tax and financial incentives.”

A few panelists at the conference, including Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences James E. Hansen, noted that gas and oil prices are also artificially low because of subsidies.

Though Jacobson made it clear his role as a scientist is to present the facts, not to lobby politicians for certain courses of action, the facts tell him that mankind doesn’t have time to try out other options when wind and solar energy are relatively quick to set up and as clean as it gets.

Jacobson says the Arctic ice will completely melt in the next 30 years.

It takes 10–19 years to get through permitting and construction to get a nuclear plant online, and has a life of about 40 years before it needs refurbishing. Solar, wave, tidal, and wind power take two to five years to get in place, and have an equally long life span.

Some audience members were proponents of nuclear energy.

“Have you given any consideration to the impact of improved reactor design?” asked Barrett Walker of the Alex C. Walker Foundation, which takes a special interest in ecological economics and awards grants to green-minded entrepreneurs.

{etRelated 60139}He gave the example of potential fast-neutron reactors of which the United States built a prototype that operated for 30 years. The fast-neutron design reuses nuclear waste from the traditional nuclear power generation, and uses uranium more efficiently.

Jacobson said people could pursue the study and implementation of these new technologies—with private funds. More importantly, with public funds, he wants to see policymakers give their undivided attention to wind and solar power.

Read more at The Epoch Times

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2 Responses

  1. thomas deans says:

    magnetics, perpetual motion for nothing,what would be wrong with that?

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