Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Windy Cities

Thinking about wind energy again. A poster at DailyKos has been talking about the possibility of setting up some sort of dKos investment in a wind farm. It's more than just pie-in-the-sky -- his livelihood is financing wind developments (in France, I think). That's pretty interesting, but even moreso is this initiative in Toronto. It's a cooperatively owned wind turbine on the edge of Toronto producing electricity that is integrated into the grid (and will eventually be consumed by the cooperative owners). This is just such gorgeous execution of the kinds of potential I see in cooperative enterprise, I can hardly contain my excitment. A small number of families interested in renewable resources got together with the idea, raised the investment capital and navigated the regulatory and business maze to get a 1.5 MW turbine built. One more is on the way, and these are on the edge of Lake Ontario.

This is another kind of thing I would LOVE to play a part in getting started in Ann Arbor. This one seems pretty doubtful, though -- there's only so many projects I can entertain. Sadly, the dean of the college of architecture and urban planning informed me no one is working on wind -- either on the planning side or on the design side (SNRE is at least thinking about it). I think that's too bad, because resource self-sufficiency and engagement with renewable resources is going to become increasingly important to cities. You may recall I wrote a while back that Sault Ste. Marie could be invigorated by combining design and wind farming. Holland, too, seems like a brilliant place for such innovation -- Old World tradition and technology refined and reconsidered in the New World.

Rembrandt's "The Mill."

UPDATE: Check out this recent Stanford evaluation of wind potential. In the US, the places with the greatest and most consistent potential are the coasts and the Great Lakes. See this Michigan wind map. As I note in the comments, the bird issue is old news -- competent siting is one solution. The other is the slow rotation of the more recent turbines -- they now rotate slowly enough that birds can see and avoid them.

UPDATE 2: An inquiry to the Michigan Energy Office reveals that grants up to 500,000 dollars (up to 25% of a project) are available for farmers and rural businesses to develop renewable technologies. It looks like this legislation just sunset; let me see if it, too, is renewable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biggest problem comes from some environmental groups, actually. They complain about what affect a wind farm may have on bird migration. Also, many people seem to think that wind farms create a large amount of noise... and, from my trips in the Netherlands, I'd say I have to agree with at least that point.
- Paul

11:28 PM  
Blogger accidentalactivist said...

Both of those complaints have been pretty well addressed, though (if not debunked). Bird migration issues are isolated cases (only one that I have been able to find).

As for noise, two turbines in the city add nothing to the noise of the place, and most wind farms are way out in rural areas.

Each of these can be managed, but I think they are both trades we should be willing to make.

9:52 AM  

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