Sunny Gets Green.
For a brief period of time near the end of March 2008, on a particularly blustery
day, wind-powered generators supplied almost 40% of electricity for all of
Spain. That's 10,000 megawatts of power. In case you're curious these generators
generally supply only about 30% of Spain's electrical needs.
Spain also recently opened the world's first commercial-scale solar concentrating
power plant, currently capable of lighting 10,000 homes. It's a thing of beauty
and you can see a youtube video of it here.
Spain leads the way in Europe in developing wind power and they will have tripled
their current output by 2020. You have to stand in awe of any country that
will soon provide 90% of its enegry without the use of hydrocarbons or fissionable
America has extremely windy places, too, and it also has vast areas of sun-lit
deserts but these resources have been woefully underutilized so far. There
are, to be sure, modest wind farms across this country but nothing near so
comprehensive as Spain's. Why are we just waiting until now to get on this
The reason is that Spain's energy system is nationalized, not privatized. So
when the Spanish government realized oil was a bad bet for the future back
in the 90s it took steps to ramp up the use of naturally occuring resources.
America's privatized energy companies, on the other hand, were happy to continue
burning cheap oil and coal on the reasoning that it's cheaper to piss in the
streets than install proper plumbing. Thankfully, sanitation isa civil function
and it works remarkably well however monstrously complex.
Given a choice, I say nationlize our energy resources.
Wind and solar still face major hurdles in terms of storage to bridge the gaps
on those dark nights and windless days but new techniques in chemical storage
(essentially storing heat, not volts) hold promise.
It's too bad America didn't sink two trillion dollars into solar and wind power
over the past eight years. That would certainly have been a MUCH more effective
way of preventing the next 9-11 than playing Musical Invasions throughout the