Wind power, or hot air?

“Bob Dylan said it best,” says James Tisch in the Houston Chronicle: “The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” While politicians and environmentalists argue over greenhouse gas reductions, “the precipitous rise in oil and gas prices” has made that debate moot. The free market, combined with “the silent and inexorable march of technology,” has provided the answer: wind and solar energy. Wind turbines already provide almost 10 percent of the electrical supply in Texas, and Texas isn’t the only state lured by the benefits of cheaper, cleaner wind power. Oil and coal are simply “being priced out of the market,” and it didn’t require any “draconian regulation,” just “a little patience” and some new technology.

Wind power looks good on paper, says Steve Hargreaves in, but are the hopes of phasing out oil and coal “realistic or just dreams?” Coal provides half our power, and natural gas 21 percent, while wind and other “traditional renewables” ring in at a paltry 3 percent. To replace all that coal and gas is a tall order, and a costly one. Not only will the government have to subsidize wind turbines and utilities build up infrastructure, but backup generators will need to be maintained because, of course, “the wind doesn’t blow all the time.” Still, getting wind power up to 25 percent is feasible, with the right laws and incentives, and the benefits make the effort “worth looking into.”