Wind-power as an alternative to gas is a no-brainer. Wind generates tax money as readily as gas-power, there’s no paying for drilling rights, and those pesky environmental problems with hydrofracking in the Marcellus shale, and elsewhere, just don’t exist.
Unfortunately, wind-power generators are under attack from gas-power firms, because wind-power generators can’t guarantee what they expect to generate on any given day. Solutions to this problem are not that far off, however.
The issue was explained yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, in an article with the quixotic title, “Natural Gas Tilts at Windmills in Power-Generation Feud.” In Texas, where wind-power is very popular, for example,
Coal, nuclear and gas operators must pay for their own backup if an operational or maintenance problem prevents them from delivering power as promised. But if wind generators fail to deliver promised power because the wind doesn’t blow, the cost of backing up wind power companies is spread among all the generators,
The gas industry argues that this approach gives wind an unfair advantage. But isn’t that as it should be? Wind is among the cleanest of energy sources: natural gas is clearer than coal, but it still emits carbon dioxide and has those nasty hydrofracking problems noted above.
One solution to the problem of the vagaries of wind-power (and solar) is storage. Some really smart people are working hard on it, as discussed here.
Another making better use of power as it is generated. One solution is to charge some industries a low rate for power, in exchange for a willingness to have power shut-offs, as necessary.