Clean Power Isaac forces Republican Convention to cancel Monday

Published on August 26th, 2012 | by Tina Casey


Hurricane Isaac Has a Wind Power Message for Mitt Romney

August 26th, 2012 by  

After officially dismissing the role of wind power in the energy future of the U.S., presidential candidate Mitt Romney faced some stiff blowback from members of his own party. Now it seems that Mother Nature is weighing in, too. Fresh on the heels of a report that Colorado Representative Scott Tipton has joined the ranks of prominent Republicans who are opposed to the Romney position, Hurricane Isaac has forced the Republican National Convention to cancel the first day of its proceedings, originally scheduled for Monday.

Isaac forces Republican Convention to cancel Monday

Wind Power Rising in the U.S.A.

Okay, so the Isaac thing is probably just a coincidence, but when you talk about U.S. energy resources, the hurricane is a fair reminder that wind is a powerful source of energy, and that coal, oil, and natural gas are just three parts of a much larger domestic energy pie that includes solar and geothermal, too.

According to the recently released Wind Technologies Market Report, wind has become a first-tier player in the national energy grid in terms of new added capacity. In 2011 alone, wind accounted for an impressive 32 percent of new capacity.

Back in 2008 and 2009, wind’s share of the pie was even larger, but uncertainties over extension of the wind energy tax credit have put a damper on the industry’s growth this year.

Fossil Fuels Face an Uncertain Future

Despite the opposition of Mitt Romney and most of the Republican party, wind is on the upswing in the U.S. In contrast, coal has been withering on the vine, starting a couple of years ago when improved biomass technology began coming on line as a feedstock for power plants. More recently, the availability of cheap natural gas has played a key role in shoving coal aside.

As for domestically sourced natural gas and oil, both face significant obstacles to future growth over the long run. For natural gas the problem lies in potential impacts of fracking (water contamination, air pollution and even earthquakes) on local communities including high-population areas in the eastern U.S. For oil, it’s the ongoing environmental issues including disasters like the Gulf oil spill, as well as price spikes and supply bottlenecks that attend the global marketplace.

Aside from periodically wreaking havoc on household and business, continued dependence on the global petroleum market will have a significant impact on national security.

Image: Hurricane Isaac. Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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  • Motorhedd

    Thats real smart…lets use our food supply to make fuel while the ranchers and dairyman are struggling with adtronomial feed prices…when will the madness stop and commonsense kick i?

    • and why is food supply actually screwed? insane drought and flooding have anything to do with it? and the cause of that? (hint: burning oil and coal)

  • Nashota TwoHorses

    As a female, native American, registered Republican, I can honestly say that the GOP is stuck in the 50’s. The world has changed, not so the GOP. I’m voting for Obama. A man can’t change the mess in 4 yrs. w/o cooperation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Good points. This is no longer a Straight White Male country. I see an important role for a party that concentrates on keeping the government efficient and as low cost as possible. But the hate stuff and anti-science stuff has got to go.

  • MToffgrid

    Quite frankly, a hurricane would do the same damage to wind generators as it would to buildings. Obviously this person does not know or want to discuss the many pitfalls of wind. The operational range of all utility scale wind units is between 17 and 33mph sustained wind, so they would all be shut down in New Orleans during the storm season. They require three to be built to be able to get the full power of one unit continuously (capacity factor) and they require enormous amounts of utility power to operate (they need utility power to angle the blades, move the head, rotate the blades initially) and the same goes for you electric car enthusiasts. Putting a million electric cars on the road is like running 2 million microwaves about 4 hours a day. So unless the power is coming from a off-grid solar-wind system, it is all grid and this way will never work. Not ever and with global warming getting worse and the economy in the dumper, and lots of weather and earthquakes and CME events, we might as well go back to horse and buggy now as later.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Yes, turbines are commonly shut down when the wind exceeds safe operating limits. Interesting thing is, the turbines a bit further away are running full speed and more than making up for the ones curtailed.

      You don’t have a decent grasp on nameplate vs. operational capacity. No generation source runs at 100% nameplate. The ratio between nameplate and operational capacities is meaningless. It’s the cost per kWh output that counts.

      NREL has studied the US grid. If every car and light truck/SUV in America was magically converted to an EV overnight the existing grid could charge 78% of them. We have adequate generation and transmission capability during off-peak hours. Remember, the grid is built to provide peak-peak demand and that is not something that happens around the clock.

      No need to go back to horse and buggy. Just make a quick move to EVs and PHEVs while installing wind and solar as fast as we can. We shouldn’t even notice a lifestyle change.

      Except for cheaper electricity and much cheaper driving.

      • Nashota TwoHorses

        Guess he was wrong. You do know what yur talkin about…gigl

  • Bear589

    Of course, a website in the depths of wind power is completely objective!

  • RobS

    The more worrying thing from an energy perspective about Isaac is many models have it plowing through the densest group of offshore rigs producing 50% of the USs offshore oil production and pointed directly at port fourchon where 15% of the nations oil is imported. Combined they account for ~20% of the nations oil. If such a forecast comes to pass we are facing an oil shock to rival the 70’s.

    • Bob_Wallace

      How many times do we have to be hit over the head before we realize the value of electrifying our personal transportation?

      Just think about how hard those Texas wind turbines are going to be spinning as this system works its way into the heartland.

      • RobS

        The difference is now we have some electric vehicle options available off the shelf, if there is an oil shock which lasts a few months watch for EV sales to soar, the only thing working against them is the long waiting lists, meaning people won’t be able to actually get a vehicle during the crisis, the automakers would be smart to divert production to EVs where possible to capitalise on the demand fully.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Ford has set their Focus assembly lines up so that they can quickly convert lines from liquid fuel to EV. Ford is ready.

          Nissan has just opened their Tennessee Leaf plant, so they can crank out larger numbers if sales pick up. They could probably bring product from the England plant they are opening.

          An oil crunch could ratchet things up for EVs….

          • RobS

            Whilst its great that Tesla already has a 16,000 vehicle ~12 month waiting list, I think it would severely limit the potential for them to capitalise on any oil crunch.
            In general I think an oil crunch would have to be just right for it to benefit EVs, too small or short and people will forget too soon, there will be a few people who were on the fence who will jump in but no mass conversion in public sentiment. Too large a crunch and the general recessionary impacts on the economy with their consequent job losses would likely suppress demand for all discretionary products including EVs. Get one in the middle and I think EVs will take off.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think the best thing that could happen right now is if a lot more EVs were put on the road. Get the general public more familiar with them and their capability.

            Plus, we need to get manufacturing levels up in order to bring prices down.
            If we had a Congress that gave a damn what we should do is offer about $10k rebates to anyone buying an EV. Bring the price down to that of ICEVs at the moment of purchase. If necessary, put a very small additional tax on gas to cover the subsidies.

            We burn something like 375 million gallons of gas per day. A penny per gallon would raise $13,587,500,000 a year. That would cover over 136,000 EV subsidies.

            Even if we didn’t recoup via an additional tax we would likely save that much and a lot more by avoiding the next oil war.

            Maybe even give a sweeter deal to working folks who have commutes to lower paying jobs which they can’t reach with public transportation. I know people who work at rather ordinary jobs and have a 20 – 30 mile drive to get to them. EVs would be perfect for them. Save them a bunch of money.

          • “I think the best thing that could happen right now is if a lot more EVs were put on the road. Get the general public more familiar with them and their capability.”

            Exactly! Familiarity is key. And one of the key benefits of what we do, I think.

            And awesome on all the other ideas, too. Wish I could just make you in charge of Congress. 😀

          • Bill_Woods

            Currently, EVs get a $7.5k tax credit.

            375e6 gal/day * 365 d/yr * $.01 /gal = $1.4e9 /yr

          • Good points.

        • Exactly. Next oil hit is going to be a lot diff, i think. People are going to remember and see more of these cars. The alarm will start ringing.

          • Zach,
            I know that for you, like me, the alarm bells have been ringing deafeningly loud for a long time. Amazingly, too few seem to be able to hear them. I guess that we have to keep on keeping on.

          • Keep on keepin on… that’s what we have to do. 😀

    • Ah, but as a Floridian by birth, I can tell you that they alway change course. 😀 (or maybe 90% of the time.) we’ll see. 😛

  • bussdriver78

    Wind power? More like smite. Maybe Mitt should be reminded scientists warned him of god’s wrath?

    • Ryan

      He’s wearing his magic underwear so he should be good.

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