Driving across the front range of the Rockies, you can see that Rocky Flats is the perfect place for a wind farm!
This winter in Northern Virginia has been pretty mild, so a quick trip out to the Central Colorado proved that 18inches of snow wasn’t really missed that much (really, it wasn’t missed at all!)… Something that was pretty hard to miss as we headed towards Boulder, the home of green living and many eco-minded folks and the National Wind Technology Center, from the Denver suburbs was the patch of Wind Turbines in the foreground of the front rage of the Rockies as you approach Rocky Flats.
It almost feels like Don Quixote sneaking up on the great swordsmen, well, not so much sneaking in the chained tires of the vehicle we were in, as we turned the corner to see the tall spires with spinning wheels of the wind turbines. “What the heck is that?” Oh! It is a wind farm! “No, it is a testing site called the Rocky Flats Test Site” spouts off the smarty-pants who is driving. Oh. Still…how cool is that?! Literally cool, since it was seriously like 10 degrees outside and you could see the wind picking up the sparkling powdered snow and swishing it across the plains and dancing it playfully in front of the massive blades of the wind turbines of Rocky Flats. The questions, much like the powdery, sparkling snow began to swirl:
Who decided to put them up? The Federal Government.
Why aren’t there more of them? Because these are just being tested for the success and they are changed out when a ‘new and improved prototype is established.
Why don’t we see more wind energy being harvested? This answer didn’t come from the smarty-pants who was driving us to Boulder, but from Telos, a Wind Energy Advocate it probably could have been inferred from the conversation that we ended up having on our day-after Christmas Drive in Boulder…”In the United States, the federal government’s involvement in wind energy research and development began in earnest within two years after the so-called “Arab Oil Crisis” of 1973. Despite the speed with which it was initiated and began to show results, this program ultimately proved to be largely ineffective because of the interference of political factors and the withdrawal of financial support before success could be achieved.”
What’s the future of wind energy? Telos tells us that “in the near future, wind energy will be the most cost effective source of electrical power. In fact, a good case can be made for saying that it already has achieved this status. The actual life cycle cost of fossil fuels (from mining and extraction to transport to use technology to environmental impact to political costs and impacts, etc.) is not really known, but it is certainly far more than the current wholesale rates. The eventual depletion of these energy sources will entail rapid escalations in price which — averaged over the brief period of their use — will result in postponed actual costs that would be unacceptable by present standards. And this doesn’t even consider the environmental and political costs of fossil fuels use that are silently and not-so-silently mounting every day.” Interesting, indeed.
So many questions. Jeez… take your time, we’re on our way to Boulder, where things slow down a bit at a higher altitude.