It gets cold in Minnesota, in the winter. This is not an anomaly, or a carefully guarded secret of some sort. Minnesota + winter = cold. That’s just the way it is, and most people are aware of this, especially if they have the misfortune of living in Minnesota. This week, I don’t think we’ve hit double digits, Fahrenheit, and every night has been below zero, Fahrenheit.
Consider the wind turbine for a moment, if you would, the “green energy” source that nobody really likes. People in the energy sector don’t like them – they produce a random amount of energy at random times of day, which they don’t, for some reason, view as terribly useful. The more excitable environmental activists don’t like them, because they can and apparently do kill birds and bats. Anyone who lives within eyesight of one seems to hate them, because they’re ugly. And anyone who lives really close to one seems to really hate them, because they’re ugly and noisy, too.
Even the most gung-ho supporter of wind turbines, though, will probably concede, however grudgingly, that American energy independence probably shouldn’t rely terribly much on something that seizes up in the cold.
When I first heard about this on the local news, I thought that the recent ice storms we’d had were at fault – that the turbines had iced up, or something like that. That would be kind of sad, but we did have something like forty-eight straight hours of freezing rain, which isn’t quite a regular occurrence, even in this wonderful winter wasteland.
Instead, however, it appears that the problem is much more basic – the various fluids in these turbines just can’t handle the temperatures we get here.
To be fair, this does appear to be only affecting some unsurprisingly craptastic turbines manufactured in the People’s Republic of California, but that such equipment, incapable of handling relatively mild winter weather, could be sold to, you know, Minnesota, suggests to me that the wind-power industry has a long way to go before it can hope to be taken terribly seriously – someone, somewhere, should have recognized that this could be a problem. I don’t care who – the manufacturer, the owners, their consultants, some regulatory body or industry standards group – take your pick. It’s just an unbelievably boneheaded oversight that it makes you suspect that nobody really knows what they’re doing, which means you can’t help but wonder what else is being done wrong…