United States

United States

BEWARE THE MARCH OF NUCLEAR

I would like to reinforce the comment made by Pritchard, Marmont and Gammon (Letters, September 2003) urging Windpower Monthly and the European Wind Energy Association "to define and share a clear and precise plan for future energy supply." They note that your current approach virtually guarantees that nuclear power will supply at least 75% of electricity demand.

I fully agree with this assessment. Lest anyone believe this is an exaggeration, a report in the New York Times: "After Heat Wave, Europe Gives Nuclear Power a Second Look," (September 18, 2003), gives full support to their scenario. It says the nuclear power industry is using the heat wave of the past summer to rehabilitate its reputation and attract new investment. They note that "...countries like Germany and Denmark invested in wind turbines only to discover during the unusually hot, still summer that the wind may not always blow when it is most needed. That, the nuclear operators say, leaves only one good option: nuclear energy."

Hydrogen is one option as an energy storage medium and as an energy carrier. There are others. My work has shown that compressed air energy storage combined with wind turbine arrays not only provides short term back up and a significant reduction in transmission requirements, but can also provide seasonal storage economically. That is, energy produced in the fall or spring can be stored for winter or summer utilisation. Such systems require no technical breakthroughs and employ available, proven technology.

This lack of vision on the part of the wind industry is frightening. It does not stop there. Past industry practice is to assume or insist that someone else take care of increased transmission requirements and costs for intermittent energy. In other words, other generators and the grid operator have to provide services without compensation. This will have the effect of making enemies of those charged with supplying reliable power to society.

Counting on fossil and nuclear plants to provide back-up for wind energy, and minor transmission upgrades, paid for by others, to overcome minor bottlenecks, certainly works in the short term. However, I can think of no better way to insure a nuclear future than to persist in this approach.

I believe that intermittent renewable energy can power a modern industrial economy. Precisely how this is to be done must be explored honestly and openly in collaboration with the utilities and grid operators. We must start thinking how to move together to forward this goal.

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