I didn't take my camera..., and I would need many hundreds of photos to show the number of windmills we saw on the trip.
My brother Larry and I were on our way in his car to Newport, OR for the wedding of his son Bert. Larry and I only see each other once a year at best, now that our parents are gone..., so the trip was a good excuse to spend some time together. I flew from Forks, WA to Lewiston, ID and Larry met me there. I saw some windmills from the plane..., and we were a few miles west of Pomeroy, WA when the giant sentinels began appearing. Larry..., as always..., knew a bit about them and filled me in on what he knew. We talked about them and marveled at what a huge undertaking the project must have been. We had worked together on a big Bonneville Power line job back in the 80’s when we were partners in Spence Brothers Logging, so we weren’t just idling speculating. Those big windmills were impressive and intimidating..., but they did nothing to prepare us for the immensity of the scene in the Columbia River Gorge. Hundreds upon hundreds of windmills..., mile after mile after mile of them.
Larry has always been of the mechanical persuasion..., while I have been more aesthetic in nature. He prefers cars, trucks and machinery..., I prefer horses, dogs and poetry. But we both agree that we have reached peak oil, peak debt, and are well past peak economic growth prospects to pull us out of the hole the whole world has dug in the form of debt in an attempt to stimulate growth. We discussed it all as we powered down Interstate 84..., fueled by a few measly gallons of that liquid magic called gasoline..., in his Toyota Corolla. While we were being passed by luxury model 4-wheel drive SUV’s..., we speculated about the viability and sustainability of windmills. And about who..., and how..., they were financed.
I couldn’t get the windmills off my mind..., so I did a little research. Here’s a link from an article from October of last year. The figures are a bit outdated by now..., and I am not sure they account for the windmills on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.
“Eastern Klickitat County's wind energy boom has utterly transformed the landscape. In the past four years, 624 wind turbines have risen along the crest of the Columbia Hills and on ridges south and east of this town of 90, each the height of a 41-story building as measured from the ground to the tip of the highest turbine blade. That number is likely to reach 1,000 when and if all the projects that are under construction or working their way through the permitting process come on line.”
Larry doesn’t read as much as I do..., but I sent him a copy of Kuntsler’s “The Long Emergency” a few months back. I think he read it, based on some of our discussions. Kuntsler says, “Fossil fuels allowed the human race to operate highly complex systems at gigantic scales. Renewable energy sources are not compatible with those systems and scales...The wish to keep running the same giant systems at gigantic scale using renewables is the heart of our illusions about solar, wind, and water power.”
John Michael Greer at http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2011/06/profligacies-of-scale.html says the same thing..., that wind power on a small limited scale is great..., but isn’t a large scale answer.
“Still, it will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that very little of this wealth of practical information receives much in the way of attention nowadays. Instead, the concept of wind power has been monopolized by a recently minted industry devoted to building, servicing, and promoting giant wind turbines that provide electricity to the grid. The giant turbines have their virtues, no question; compared to most other energy production technologies, certainly, they’re safe and clean, and their net energy yield is a respectable 8 or 9 to 1, which beats the stuffing out of most other alternative energy sources. Still, the idea that serried ranks of giant wind turbines will enable us all to keep on using energy at today’s extravagant rates runs headlong into at least two difficulties.”
I didn’t tell my brother what I was really thinking when we discussed all this. What I am still thinking now.
That we are living on Easter Island.