coal versus wind: what would you prefer?

There was recently a post on this site expressing concern at plans for major wind developments in the Appalachian Mountains in the USA.

This overlooks an incredible assault that is already happening to this range: mountain top removal (or MTR) for coal mining.

mountain top removal

The recent revelation that large areas of Victoria are subject to mining and exploration leases for coal brought the question of wind versus coal into sharp relief for many people.

This 60 second video shows whats happening with MTR in the south east of the States.

From the website:

“If most of us have a notion of mountaintop-removal mining, it’s that somewhere in Appalachia a bunch of extras from ‘Winter’s Bone’ are getting their view spoiled by some trucks and TNT. But these are real people, and the environmental catastrophe they’re experiencing — entire counties turned into flattened moonscapes like you’d expect after a nuclear bomb — is entirely unnecessary, even for a country as coal-addicted as the United States”.

not mountain top removal

“If you remember one thing from this video, it should be this: only 7 percent of our nation’s coal comes from mountaintop-removal mining. The U.S. is also a significant exporter of coal. So ending the practice isn’t about endangering jobs (wind power, which could be sited on the same mountains they’re blowing up, generates significantly more) or energy security. It’s about ending a practice that poisons the water, irreparably damages millions of acres of land, and enriches sociopaths like Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship”.

5 thoughts on “coal versus wind: what would you prefer?

  1. many better alternatives to wind cam, especially if you wish to stop the use of coal.
    Geothermal, solar thermal and hydro all work on demand and do not rely on luck to obtain generation capacity.
    Wind is dependand on huge subsidies that without would be unviable and has not yet ever proven to be predictable enough to use as a alternative to any base load type generator.

  2. Thanks Sammy.
    Where do you live? If in Vic you will know we have very limited potential for new hydro.

    Geothermal needs more research money (the projects underway in Vic are looking promising).

    We support the use of all these energy sources. But we also accept that wind is the most commercially viable clean energy option we have at present. No one is suggesting we rely 100% on wind, so the issues you raise about reliability are really off the mark.

  3. Hi Cam, i would suggest there are many possibilities for more hydro, if you look at alot of the dams in the central region, such as tullaroop and cairn curren they already have very small hydro generators on them, no reason they could not be larger or more pondages built to provide more supply, prehaps you dont like dams? and would rather wind turbines? I think its time the government sat down and did this properly, there is alot of money being syphoned into the wind industry for what seems like very little return, infact where is the data to show us the returns? its certainly not readily available.
    The issues i raise about the reliability of wind should not be brushed off like you have tried to do, these are the most compelling arguments as to why wind is not reducing the amount of coal used. Its very clear from data year after year that the emmisions from coal are going upward, we were told by our previous govt that wind farms would reduce this but it hasnt been the case.
    The money being spent on wind would be much better put into research on geothermal, it has much greater potential to be able to reduce dependance on coal.

  4. Sammy,
    Great that you’re interested in reducing reliance on coal.

    Because of the landscape and rain patterns theres really no oppportunity for new hydro in Central/ western Vic, and a few small new generators on existing reservioirs won’t help a great deal (although I certainly support them being put in).

    Coal production keeps going up because of growing demand and the fact that many approved wind farms have not yet been built. Did you see yesterdays post from Andrew Herington, which looks at the % of renewable energy in Vic and puts it in context? Worth a look.

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