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South Dakota school wants to build wind farm; other news

(Wednesday, June 29, 2005 -- CropChoice news) --

1. Study: Wind Could Meet Global Energy Needs
2.Geo-green goals
3. South Dakota school wants to build wind farm

1. Study: Wind Could Meet Global Energy Needs

By Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News

May 24, 2005 -- A new survey of wind power around the globe has found there's ample energy for all humanity blowing around us.

By gathering together more than 8,000 wind records on every continent, researchers Christina Archer and Mark Jacobson of Stanford University in California have created a set of world wind-power resource maps that reveal a barely tapped 72 terawatts of power -- 40 times the amount of electrical power used by all countries in the year 2000.

If just 20 percent of the estimated 72 terawatts of wind power were tapped, said Archer, it would satisfy all the world's energy needs.

A single terawatt is enough power to light up 10 billion 100-watt light bulbs. And there is undoubtedly a lot more wind power out there, said Archer. "We tend to believe our results are kind of conservative," she said. "Many continents are actually lacking wind data over large areas."

The study, along with maps of the continents with their high-speed wind zones, appears in the May issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research â¤" Atmospheres.

The most wind-charged sites are along the North Sea in Europe, around the southern tip of South America, the island of Tasmania, the Great Lakes region of North America, and the northeastern and northwestern coasts of North America.

The good news is that wind generators are being built at record rates, Archer and Jacobson report.

Over the past five years wind power systems have grown at an annual rate of 34 percent. That makes it the fastest-growing electrical power source. "We are kind of reassured that the numbers they have come up with are at least as good as those produced in the past," said Mike Robinson, deputy director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Wind Technology Center in Colorado.

"There's a tremendous amount of wind." What's really needed, said Robinson, is a whole lot more and better real data from the ground to the heights of turbines. That would allow for a more detailed understanding of the resource, and help engineers build better wind turbines.

Wind Power Potential in Europe

Archer and Jacobson used estimates.

They made data from different instruments and different heights stand shoulder-to-shoulder by recalculating each wind velocity so that they were all equivalent to winds at 80 meters, or 300 feet, above the ground everywhere.

That's the hub-height of modern, giant wind turbines that are becoming more common. These taller, slower-moving wind turbines are more efficient and create fewer hazards for birds.

Wind power currently accounts for just a little more than a half percent of the world⤙s electrical power.

The shortfall is the result of two things, says Archer: The lack of wind data to help people properly place generators and the misperception that wind is unreliable.

It's also not easy for utility companies even in windy places to break the fossil fuel habit, said Matt Baker, executive director of Environment Colorado, speaking to the High Country News earlier this month. "It's so hard for people to back off this obsession with coal and instead focus on efficiency and new technology," said Baker.

2. Community Columnist: Geo-green goals

Lincoln Journal Star, June 25, 2005

Amidst our red/blue political polarization, a new color has emerged -- geo-green. Unlike the blue/red's obsessive, almost pathological focus on marginal social issues that divide us (could anything be less important to our nation's future than the constitutionality of same-sex marriage?), the geo-green agenda is centered on the nexus of energy, economics and security policy -- issues that will largely determine the United States' standing in the 21st century.

Geo-greens are an odd grouping -- uniting hawks such as former CIA Director James Woolsey, "family values" advocate Gary Bauer, the Sierra Club's Dan Becker and energy guru Amory Lovins. Geo-green policies are advocated by groups with such rousing patriotic names as Set America Free, which laments the extent that the U.S. economy and security are held hostage to foreign energy suppliers, and The Apollo Project, a grouping of labor and environmental leaders convinced that future prosperity is linked to energy innovation and efficiency.

What binds these diverse individuals and groups is a conviction that our dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes our future. In a time of growing international demand, paired with dwindling supplies concentrated in the hands of a few autocratic regimes, geo-greens see grave threats for both U.S. security and economic health. To address these threats, geo-greens advocate policies that stimulate development of alternative, domestically produced energy resources and increased efficiency.

Rather than continuing our love affair with imported oil to fuel-inefficient cars, geo-greens would invest in U.S. know-how to achieve energy independence within the decade. The Apollo Project, for example, envisions a 10-year, $30 billion annual program of government-supported, private-sector-led investment to reorient our economy toward domestically secure, renewable energy supplies and innovative, energy-efficient design.

While the $300 billion price tag may seem staggering (and other, less expensive proposals are being promoted), independent economic analyses calculate such an undertaking would stimulate equally staggering economy-wide returns -- $1.3 trillion in new GDP, 3.3 million new high-skilled/high-wage jobs and $285 billion in net energy cost savings. Much like the first moon shot, such an initiative would provide a shot in the arm to the U.S. education system, reinvigorating interest in math and science as gateways to these new high-paying energy jobs.

For those who doubt the federal government's ability to absorb a $300 billion investment, remember that is much less than the running tab of our terror wars. Currently, U.S. consumers' junkie-like dependence on foreign gas to fill up inefficient cars sends billions to governments that indirectly support the very jihadists who our taxpayers are paying hundreds of billions to fight in the oil-rich Middle East. It's crazy.

Investments in domestically secure renewables and next-generation automobiles would, on the other hand, directly enhance both our security and our economy.

Nebraskans could benefit tremendously from a new energy diet such as the one envisioned by the geo-greens. In addition to increasing national demand for Nebraska-produced ethanol, an energy policy focused on renewables could exploit one of our state's most abundant resources: wind power. Excess electricity generated by next-generation turbines (designed at UNL) scattered across Nebraska's wind-swept plains could be a significant contributor to our domestic fuel mix as it boosted incomes in rural communities.

Bold political leadership is needed to help direct the United States' unparalleled innovative capacity toward such far-reaching goals. Unfortunately, President Bush and Congress thus far have paid only lip service to achieving greater energy independence. The House-approved energy bill combines the standard fare of "old energy" subsidies designed by coal, oil and gas lobbyists in those infamous closed-door sessions with Vice President Cheney, with a continuation of pathetic fuel economy standards. Instead of aggressive incentives to promote energy innovation and to accelerate growing consumer demand for next-generation autos, we have yet more giveaways to multinational oil companies and continuation of exemptions to fuel economy standards on, and tax breaks for, gas-guzzling Hummers and SUVs. It's a pathetic proposal in need of dramatic revisions.

With rising energy prices threatening our prosperity, dwindling global petroleum reserves threatening our security and rising global temperatures threatening our very existence, it is not surprising that pollsters have found broad-based public support for innovative solutions to our energy problems.

Not coincidentally, the president's energy rhetoric has changed. Recently, Bush has begun advocating a "national strategy" to harness the "transformational power of technology" to "grow our economy, protect our environment, and achieve greater energy independence."

One hopes the Senate, currently debating the energy bill, will take advantage of the president's rhetorical opening to craft an alternative bill that will, like the visionary solutions advocated by the geo-greens, help achieve real energy independence in the short term. A cleaner, more secure, more prosperous future awaits all Americans -- red, blue and geo-green alike.

Jeff Cole is going on six years in Lincoln and still feels it is one of the best places in America to raise a family.

3. South Dakota School Wants to Build Wind Farm

Source: Argus Leader
[Jun 17, 2005]

SYNOPSIS: Faith School Board hopes to build a wind farm that not only covers the cost of a new school building but also pumps revenue into the general fund. FAITH (AP) - Faith school leaders hope new wind-measuring devices will help them move ahead with plans to pay for a new school through profits from a wind farm.

The state fire marshal ordered the district to abandon its 81-year-old brick and mortar classrooms in June 2004 because of structural problems and safety concerns about fire exits, narrow hallways and dead-end corridors. The district's 200 students have since been studying in temporary classrooms.

The Faith School Board hopes to build a wind farm that not only covers the cost of a new school building but also pumps revenue into the general fund. School officials were exploring the idea even before the old building was condemned.

"The school needs to own a business," said Mike Haines, who's been active in planning the Fox Ridge Wind Farm and a renewable energy institute that would be part of the school.

Public Utilities Commissioner Bob Sahr said community-based projects face a lot of hurdles, but there's much interest across the country in renewable energy sources that can help local economies.

"Someone is going to do it," Sahr said. "It would be great if it happens in Faith."

Officials from the Faith School Board and the PUC said the anemometers will provide the first accurate information about winds in the area.

Sahr said the anemometers would be the first in western South Dakota connected to the South Dakota Wind Resource Assessment Network.

Grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and Florida Power and Light will help cover the $10,000 cost of the meters and their installation. South Dakota State University will collect daily readings and analyze the data for free.