Glowing in the Wind

The wind's up around the world - as far as converting it into electricity goes. The amount generated has tripled in four years. That alone creates a sense of possibility for new ways to meet rising energy demands.

Take, for instance, a proposed wind farm to be called "Rolling Thunder," which would generate 3,000 megawatts of power in South Dakota for the Chicago region. It would be one of the world's largest energy projects.

Why the progress? More efficient technology has lowered the cost of wind power, so it's close to that of traditional power plants. And a few big energy companies, trying to develop a "green" strategy, are pursuing investments in wind power.

Wind generators, of course, have their own environmental problems - noise and signal interference - but those pale against the pollutants from oil- and coal-powered plants.

"Wind rich" states such as Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas could someday supply most of US energy, particularly if hydrogen produced by wind-derived electricity could be stored and used to generate electricity as needed. That would help overcome wind power's limitation of not always being available for consumers.

And if hydrogen-powered fuel cells could be safely substituted for today's gasoline-driven vehicles, the internal combustion engine would become a thing of the past.

The federal assistance historically given to traditional power industries should not be denied to renewable energies such as wind. Congress should extend a wind-power tax credit.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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