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Energy Policy Outrage, Part II: ‘Windmills Are Pretty!’

Despite the inefficiency, unreliability and poor economics of wind energy, even the biggest skeptic would acknowledge the appeal of the Bird Cuisinart* to anyone interested in the elusive goal of Energy Independence. After all, the wind is free, right?

The wind may be free but the magnets required to make electricity from the whirling blades of a windmill are any thing but free. As we have seen previously in these pages, each giant turbine’s set of magnets contains some 700 pounds of rare earth metals. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s supply of rare earth metals comes from China.

And:

Having blocked shipments of raw rare earth minerals to Japan since mid-September, and to the United States and Europe since early last week, Chinese customs agents on Thursday morning allowed shipments to resume to all three destinations, the industry officials said. …

Even with containers of rare earths once again leaving China’s docks, foreign buyers still face potential shortages. As China’s own industrial needs for rare earths have grown, Beijing has repeatedly reduced its export quotas for the minerals over the last five years. So even when China is shipping its full quotas, the outbound supply is now well below world demand. [Source.]

As was the case yesterday, the outrages perpetrated by this Administration are manifold:

  1. Grownups know that the “green economy” will happen only in the world of Rainbows, Unicorns and Magic Windmills because of the well-known engineering deficiencies of wind as a generating source. Let’s stop pretending.
  2. Wind energy is supposed to benefit Energy Independence. How? Is it better to be 70% dependent on imports from a variety of sources, or practically 100% dependent on a potentially-hostile nation with an authoritarian government, and our biggest competition for energy?
  3. What’s the aerobic benefit of kowtowing? Because we’re going to be doing plenty of it; we’ll be poor but fit. And not for rare earth minerals. For oil, because while we’re futzing around pretending that wind might someday account for more than 3% of our energy supply, the Chinese are securing oil supplies around the globe as fast as they can.
  4. The only ingredient missing from our ability to greatly enhance our Energy Security is the “want to”. Our political leaders need to realize that we have abundant domestic resources of oil and especially gas, but decades of populist rhetoric have turned the populace against the companies and the technologies needed to develop them.

* About that “Bird Cuisinart” reference:

Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.

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