Prof. Thomas Webler (“Energy choice about the future we want,” Reader Opinion, June 22/23) is right, for his first three sentences.
Next, he poses a question, with four misstatements.
Next he notes, “Sunlight and wind are free.” True, but only at their source. Their value requires getting their energy into our electric grid, when we need it. Like mining gold, it’s free for the taking, but the digging, sifting?
Replacing Seabrook’s energy requires 1,000 turbines, 1/10 mile high, above every exposed ridge/hill, visible from every highway, Worse than these unsightly daytime views are the flashing red lights all night, with accompanying noise. The alternative, tens of square miles covered with environmentally devastating solar panels, was unrefuted.
These turbines and panels are not efficient, 1/3 for turbines, 1/5 for solar panels. This requires them to be overbuilt by factors of 3 (turbines) and 5 (panels) merely to generate their expected power. But overbuilding means they sit unused most of the time, requiring backup on calm, cloudy days. Imagine a sunshine system covering tens of square miles, and 1,000 wind turbines on every elevated and isolated (viewable) hill, plus a backup system, when the “wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine.”
Prof. Webler is right that “solar cells and wind turbines do not pollute the air with soot that causes strokes, heart attacks and asthma.” However, he doesn’t mention the potential epilepsy, sleep and infra sound problems of the turbines, or the widespread environmental degradation and flooding from square miles of solar-paneled deserts.
Assertions that “New Hampshire wind and New Hampshire sunlight could power all our cars, all our appliances and heat all our homes” is beyond the pale. Official Keene weather data shows that there have been stretches of weather over many consecutive days during which the “sun don’t shine” and the “wind don’t blow.” One recent example was the 50-plus hours from the afternoon of Jan. 4 until the late night of Jan. 6, 2019. And through most of those hours, there was little wind and cloudy skies at most of the other weather stations within the New England electric grid.
His suggested battery storage would require a battery covering the entire downtown of Keene. Maybe a local artist could decorate its exterior. Importing power from elsewhere requires that we be exporters in return. If so, we need to overbuild our own network even more, but thereby reducing our low efficiencies below 1/3 and 1/5. A “slippery slope”?
386 Route 123 South