Gone with the Wind: Inefficiency and Hazardous Nature of Wind Energy Impedes Renewable Crusade

A first person experience with wind power and its numerous limitations….

The infamous wind farms of Udumalpet
By Vijay Jayaraj
My hometown of Udumalpet is located in the state of Tamil Nadu, deep in the south of India. The town experiences pleasant tropical weather throughout the year. Because of this, it is famously called “poor man’s Ooty.” (Ooty is a hill station in Southern India known for its cool climatic conditions.)

The town is located in Palghat Pass and experiences an annual average wind speed of 18-22 kmph (11-13.6 mph). This provides the opportunity for power generation using windmills. In 2005, there was an exponential rise in the number of windmills in this region, as more wind projects were sanctioned by the government.

It is critical to remember that these wind projects were created not to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but to use the high wind velocity to generate electricity and help the state of Tamil Nadu, which was under a severe energy crisis.

The windmills were seen as a boon for the local people and economy, as they would contribute more electricity to the energy-starved district and state. Unfortunately, pitfalls soon surfaced.

In the past decade, according to local residents’ perception, rainfall has diminished, and residents blame the windmills. Although no official statistics exist to confirm or refute the perception, and no scientific study explains how the windmills could change rainfall, it’s not impossible. Reduction of wind flow through Palghat Pass could be connected (as turbines converted wind energy to electrical energy), which suggests the need for study.

A more concrete problem is the efficiency – or rather inefficiency – of these windmills in generating power. Not only wind, but also rain gets channeled through the Palghat Pass, and when rain comes, it disrupts windmill operation, destabilizing the electricity grid.

In August 2014, power generation there almost came to a complete stall because of the rains. On some of the worst days, only 2 MW was generated from 5,300 windmills, each of which needs about half an acre of land, with the complete wind farm occupying more than 2,650 acres previously used for agriculture.

Incidents such as these worsen the power generation season for the windmills, which is already very short – five months between June and October every year. This raises serious questions over their productivity, installation, and operating costs.

Grid connectivity is not streamlined, so problems arise due to inconsistent supply from the windmills. Local industries blame them for disruptions in power supply, eventually resulting in damage to expensive equipment.

While one can argue in favor of the little electricity these windmills produce, it remains to be seen how much loss has been incurred from their use of farm land, installation, and connectivity costs – and, of course, the costs of frequent disruptions from rain.

The locals, though, are seldom impressed by the little power these windmills generate. They view them as a burden and prefer the reliable thermal and nuclear power in the state.

Reflecting this sentiment, and to meet growing energy demand, the Indian government recently approved installation of a 1,600-MW coal-based thermal power plant in Tamil Nadu at an estimated initial cost of $8.4 billion. Unlike the windmills, projects like these will bring respite to factory owners and small industrial entrepreneurs who have been heavily impacted in the past decade because of energy deficiency.

The landscape in Udumalpet is dominated by windmills, the darlings of environmentalists around the world, but its agricultural fields, homes, and businesses depend on affordable and abundant thermal power.

Vijay Jayaraj, M.S., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England, is a research associate for developing countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Udumalpet, India.

Constitutional Fairyland

An article by Conrad Black that critiques certain recent proposals…

Another week, a new harvest of insane Democratic pre-electoral hobby horses. Various of the numberless swarm of presidential aspirants in that party have glibly chimed in with their views of how to modify American government to assure a permanent “progressive” majority. Gathering steam now are absurd ideas to side-step the Electoral College, pack the Supreme Court, lower the voting age to 16, and divide the political rubble heap of California into three or four states to create more Democratic senators.

All of this is nonsense, emanating from the same political fairyland as the 12-year elimination of carbon use and bovine flatulence. La Pasionaria Occasion assures us her Green New Deal will not lead to millions of unemployed as the leaders of organized leaders claim, but too a “reinvigorated workforce.” That is a (presumably) unintended recourse to Orwellian newspeak: involuntary unemployment is rarely reinvigorating.

Would-Be Rulers East and West
The bunk about the Electoral College is an attempt to subvert the basis of the American federal system. Little states such as Delaware and Rhode Island had the same number of senators as large states like Virginia (which then included West Virginia) and Pennsylvania, for the reason that their interests as states were just as significant as those of the large ones—and probably in need of even greater protection. (Philadelphia in 1787 was the second largest English-speaking city in the world, with 34,000 people, though a long way behind London, 20 times as populous.)

The champions of the project to negate the Electoral College recognize the practical impossibility of amending the U.S. Constitution for such a partisan measure. In practice, an amendment requires a two-thirds majority of each house of Congress and the concurrence of three quarters of the states, and evidently partisan measures have no chance of leaping these hurdles. Especially in this case, where all the states with fewer than ten electoral votes are effectively disenfranchised, the opposition of a majority of states could be assured in advance.

The detour proposed is that states determine that all their electoral votes shall be cast for whichever candidate receives the largest number of votes. In effect, the Democratic Party elders in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco want to take for themselves the power to overturn the verdict rendered by 20 or more states in all parts of the country. A federation equitably homogenizes the collective will of the whole country and balances out the great cities and the more thinly populated states, the regions, and the vastly differing socio-economic characters of the different states.

The whole idea is based on the false notion that the present system throws up presidents who receive fewer votes than their chief competitor. This has happened with John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson in 1824, Rutherford Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland in 1888, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 (if the Democratic votes in Alabama for Senator Byrd are not falsely awarded to Kennedy), in the Bush-Gore election of 2000, and the Trump-Clinton election of 2016. Calling upon small states to fall on their swords and put their votes where New Yorkers and Angelenos and Chicagoans want will not achieve the goal of “making every vote count” that is claimed. This is part of the leftist misspeak that holds, inter alia, that “pro-choice” means pro-choice when it really means pro-abortion, and that euthanasia is “death with dignity” and death from a wasting illness is not. (In general, suicide is not usually the most dignified way to die, though it can be. The point is that it should not be allowed the benefit of that phrase uncritically.)

If the advocates of eliminating the Electoral College really wanted the candidate who received the most votes to win (of course, JFK and LBJ would be no better known today than Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen), then they should advocate that there be, as in the French presidential system, a run-off between the top-two candidates where there is not a majority on the first round. In 2016, Trump, on the second ballot, would have taken most of the Libertarian votes and the McMullin third party votes in Utah, and Clinton would have taken most of the Greens . . .

And Trump still probably would have won.

Under this proposal to end the Electoral College, entire election campaigns would be conducted in the 25 or 30 largest metropolitan areas, altogether excluding states with fewer than 10 electoral votes: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming—27 states with 147 electoral votes. Why should these states waive their right to influence elections just to add to the political stature of such unworthies as Chuck Schumer, Kirsten (“I chose brave”) Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, and Rahm Emanuel? This is a greater enthronement of shabby bossism than ever prevailed in the piping days of Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, and the Kelly-Daley years in Chicago, (which, with Lyndon Johnson’s skullduggery in Texas in 1960 led John F. Kennedy to say: “Thank God for a few honest crooks”).

Partisan Nostrums Disguised as Reforms
The court-packing scheme is completely spurious. There are three co-equal branches of government. Apart from deciding on the number of judges, nothing entitles the legislature to tinker with the composition of the Supreme Court. The current proposals to impose term limits, apportion appointments to each president, and so forth are just cruder forms of meddling than even FDR attempted by seeking to expand the court. He had won a colossal reelection victory, sweeping in huge congressional majorities behind him in 1936, and he still failed to add a few judges “to lighten case-loads.” (He did succeed in frightening the Supreme Court to be careful about invalidating his legislation, and ended up appointing seven of the nine justices.) On that occasion, the all-time heavyweight political champion of the country was rebuffed by his own congressional majorities, very loyal in almost all other matters. This proposal is just a suicide mission.

The rest of it—lowering the voting age and splitting California into several states—is just a naked partisan power grab. At times, the young were more Republican—and so was California when it was the state of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. These things can change.

In pointing this out my intent is not to protect the Democrats from suffering from their tendency to believe that conditions in each state will be as they are now. My point is to protect a system that generally works well and has the legitimacy accorded it from 230 years unbroken practice, from the infantile tinkering of hacks like the egregious Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez.

All of these partisan nostrums aren’t reforms, they are just the less than righteous grumblings of people who thought they had durably gamed the system already after they watched in horror as this president dumped their apple-cart and lumped in the look-alike Republicans going through the motions with the Democratic winners who show their gratitude by going to the funerals of Republicans they defeated in presidential elections.

The Reagan legacy was squandered when George H. W. Bush allowed the charlatan Ross Perot to take 20 million mainly Republican votes, and we got the Clintons—“New Democrats,” who metamorphosed into the new normal, flat-lined Obama welfare state. It is clear from the tenor of the Democratic race this year that these wished for “reforms” are just another wheeze of the “OBushintons” to re-establish a permanent majority for their soft-left vote-harvesting declinism: the disintegration of the American state in equal opportunity self-denigration in favor of every aggrieved claimant group, foreign and domestic.

It won’t fly, and if these numberless, faceless candidates push any of this silliness, they will regret it. They are already like an awkward wave of people going over a minefield and detonating everything. At some point they are going to have to try to mount a serious campaign. Joe Biden, inadequate as he is, will make every Trump vote count, and will enable the Democrats to solemnize their electoral death with dignity.

An Ancient Fable: The Mice and the Weasels

The Mice and the Weasels

The Weasels and the Mice waged a perpetual war with each other, in which much blood was shed. The Weasels were always the victors. The Mice thought that the cause of their frequent defeats was that they had no leaders set apart from the general army to command them, and that they were exposed to dangers from lack of discipline. They therefore chose as leaders Mice that were most renowned for their family descent, strength, and counsel, as well as those most noted for their courage in the fight, so that they might be better marshaled in battle array and formed into troops, regiments, and battalions. When all this was done, and the army disciplined, and the herald Mouse had duly proclaimed war by challenging the Weasels, the newly chosen generals bound their heads with straws, that they might be more conspicuous to all their troops. Scarcely had the battle begun, when a great rout overwhelmed the Mice, who scampered off as fast as they could to their holes. The generals, not being able to get in on account of the ornaments on their heads, were all captured and eaten by the Weasels.

The more honor, the more danger.

Anti-draft rally in Foley Square, NYC

foley square anti draft rally

 

The last week I was working in New York a year ago there was this rally at the end of the block where I was staying. It is an anti-draft rally, against proposed changes to the draft (or conscription) laws in Israel!

Doesn’t this rally belong in Israel and not lower Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon?

The bedrock of any well rounded high school education

Palestinian students hold rifle-shaped wooden sticks during a graduation ceremony for the first group of school children’s military training organized by Hamas education ministry in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. More than 3,000 Palestinian teenagers on Thursday graduated from the ruling Hamas militant group’s first high school military training program in the Gaza Strip, displaying mock weapons, crawling commando-style on the ground and taking up fighting positions for thousands of cheering supporters. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)460x