Friday, October 12, 2007

Out of proportion

Even with new cap-and-trade greenhouse gas regulations on the books, a Nobel Prize for Al Gore and the IPCC, and several high-profile, utility-scale wind power developments in the works, our power developers are still investing their money and efforts overwhelmingly in fossil fuels. This graph, which was featured in a recent E2Tech presentation on wind power development, breaks down the types of additional electrical generation capacity currently being proposed in our state.

The big green bar on the left represents proposed gas or fuel oil combustion plants - 57% of proposed new capacity in Maine. Then there's 20% for natural-gas-burning integrated combined cycle plants, and the 12% bar represents the "clean coal" gasification plant proposed for Wiscasset.

In the middle, clocking in at a mere 6% of capacity, are the several wind power projects being proposed around the state (total "nameplate" capacity is actually 5 times this, but it's not always windy when we use the most electricity). Other generation projects of variable renewability round out the short tail.

I find this graph pretty humbling: even in this age of relative enlightenment, we clearly still have a lot of work to do. And this context makes certain environmental organizations' opposition to mountain wind power projects even more infuriating. Why does our "conservation" community continue to burden one of the smallest, most environmentally beneficial portions of the power sector with such a disproportionate share of criticism?

No comments: