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    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Getting wind of it
January 9, 2009 - 3:58pm

Not too long ago, I posted about how it's easier to defeat information-based change than to achieve it, particularly if the resister is well positioned.

Well, right on my heels, The Guardian (UK) has a story about how the International Energy Agency has been doing just that with regards to renewable energy sources (particularly wind). Seems this international advisory group (which consults to the governments of virtually all developed countries) has been consistently -- and apparently intentionally -- underplaying the global potential for wind energy. Turns out their predictions/estimates are based neither on empirical data nor any theoretical model, and after lowballing estimated capadity for years, they now predict a decade-long stagnation (for no stated reason) in wind turbine installations starting around 2015. Were I any sort of a cynic, I might reach the conclusion that the IEA has an institutional bias, perhaps due to its habit of hiring senior staff from the fossil fuel industries. These folks believe in something called "clean coal" (of which there is not yet one single operating example, nor will be for years), but apparently they don't believe in wind energy (of which there have been working examples for millennia, and more every day).

And wind technology just keeps getting better. Turns out some engineers at UW-Milwaukee (Go Panthers!) have designed a braking control algorithm which, combined with use of a wind turbine's rotor as a means of storing kinetic energy (think "flywheel"), evens out the peaks and valleys of wind power generation, and may even eliminate the need for massive electrical power storage (a current stumbling-block to wind as a primary power source).

The need becomes ever more obvious, and the technology just keeps getting better. We live in interesting times, to be sure.


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