Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

From whence the wind

Posted by Daniel Hall on November 23, 2007

Today’s New York Times has an article about a new offshore wind farm in Sweden. Although not the major focus of the article, one of the points it makes is that Europe has developed a lot of offshore wind, while in the U.S. wind development has been mostly limited to inland areas, and particularly the central part of the country. Over at env-econ.net they recently noted the opposition that offshore wind proposals face in the U.S.

Is the difference explicable purely in terms of NIMBY-ism? Is Europe less inclined towards onshore wind because of population density and the value of land? Are coastal residents relatively more wealthy/powerful in the U.S. and hence successful at blocking development?

The article is worth reading in its entirety. Here’s another interesting tidbit about solving the dispatch problem:

…Sweden does not need to build wind parks to get wind power. It could simply buy more surplus wind power from Denmark, which it uses, as does Norway, to pump underground water into elevated reservoirs. The water is later released during periods of peak electric demand to drive hydroelectric stations.

In this way, hydro acts as a form of storage for wind energy — addressing one of wind power’s biggest shortcomings.

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