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Coal v Wind

By Glenn Wilson – Tallangatta Valley, currently exploring WA

Putting aside any aesthetic argument that might occur between wind turbines and coal fired power stations, and before decisions are made as to which form of electricity is going to be used to meet our ongoing energy needs, consider this:

Wind turbines are powered by a completely free source of energy, and as long as the sun keeps shining and the earth keeps spinning, wind will generate electricity that we can use. The resultant effect of this conversion of the free wind into electricity is the whoosh, whoosh sound of the blades passing through the air.

Coal fired power stations, on the other hand, require a constant supply of coal to be dug up, often dried out, transported, sometimes fairly large distances (using more energy), burnt with the resultant heat turning water into steam spinning a turbine that produces electricity. Coal is considered a commodity and the supply is very big business making some people extremely wealthy. Coal whilst seeming endlessly abundant is also a finite resource. That which is burnt today will never be replaced.

The burning of coal is also a chemical process. Some very undesirable chemicals and gasses are produced when coal is burnt which are now directly implicated in the pollution of the air we all breathe, the water we all drink and the food we eat. Burning coal and other fossil fuels is also changing the gas makeup of our atmosphere and our oceans at an unprecedented rate. We are currently carrying out an uncontrolled experiment on our life support system.

Burning coal to produce our electricity is not smart, especially given the currently understood science. Despite making some people very wealthy, it is making the whole planet quite sick and anyone who advocates the ongoing burning of coal over and above the use of renewable energy sources needs to have their sanity, intelligence or their motives closely scrutinised.

In fact the choice of our future electricity sources are ours, not the governments, and not corporations who often carry out fairly intense lobbying of governments and whose main motivation is profit at any expense.

One only needs to get up close and personal with wind turbines and also coal fired power stations to make an informed decision as to the aesthetics of both.

Only a couple of weeks ago I rode a bicycle past the Rottnest Island wind turbine. It didn’t offend me.