I'm generally a guy who pays attention to a debate....willing to listen to both sides, facts, and "salesmanship". For the past couple of months, I've been watching a local fierce fight over windmills here in the Hessen state of Germany. It's a curious episode.
Across the river to the south.....is Rheinland Pfalz (the state). One of the things that you tend to notice just before getting to the river is a fair number of windmills on the Mainz side of the ridge (the other side of the river). As you had south, you notice literally hundreds of windmills. It's part of the landscape....part of the national strategy on "clean" energy.....and a big chunk of the anti-nuke power argument of the past two decades in Germany.
Some speculation folks and some wind-energy enthusiasts have put up a new project....requiring state permission here in the Wiesbaden area.....to put up a number of windmills on our side of the river....along the Taunus Mountain ridge.
Naturally, you'd think.....windmills, clean energy, helping to lessen dependence on nuke power....it'd all be acceptable. Well....it isn't. A fight has been brewing for months since they released the general plan and forwarded the concept to the folks in Wiesbaden who will sign off on it.
This week is the final public meeting where people can have a say in a forum, and in roughly six weeks....the state committee will make the decision. Things have heated up a bit and the rhetoric is fairly harsh, and in some cases....begs for questions.
The anti-wind mill crowd?
First, they've now asked for a time-consuming report to be generated.....on the economic and environmental consequences of a windmill farm on the Taunus ridge. You can figure it'd take at least a year to conduct such a study, and at least six months to write the study well enough to be accepted by a draft committee.
Second, a requested report that examines real estate pricing or consequences of property near a windmill farm. As far as I know....no one in Germany has ever completed or attempted such a examination, and it'd be fairly difficult to measure the various communities and the upturn or downturn of the local real estate prices. Added to this.....most houses are at least a kilometer or two from the windmills.....so you'd have to even figure distance into this....making it a very long and complicated report to understand.
Third, independent research over forest being cleared in support of the windmill farms and their loss to the C02 picture. You can generally figure thirty-odd acres would be needed for a farm of a dozen windmills, the access road, and the support structures required. Demanding such research and a report, would bring about a massive curiosity about the twenty-thousand construction projects around Hessen, and how clearing a single acre could be justified. You simply open up a vast Pandora's Box by suggesting this really matters.
This C02 question also brings back into some question if our carbon or global climate change episode might only be tied to lesser trees changing out vital C02, and this was the single fault in the whole discussion. Oddly....it's the environmental folks who now use this to fight the windmill crowd.
There are a couple of other requests by the committee, but of a lesser degree.
The pressure here is on the approval committee and I'm guessing that they feel some political pressure on this episode. What will happen in the final approval deal?
I would speculate that it will NOT be approved. The anti-windmill crowd will meet....pat themselves on the back....and discuss how they can bring the fight to other communities and help them stop the windmill crowd.
It's an odd deal for an American to view. Fight after fight in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, etc....over bad nuke power and evil coal power. Everyone in Germany was told over and over....you needed to accept change and windmill power was the way to the future. No one.....absolutely no one....ever said that building on such-and-such ridge was forbidden.
From the original strategy series developed.....the engineer folks learned a couple of significant factors. One was the idea of putting windmills on a ridge formation and taking advantage of wind flow through a valley. You didn't just want wind for two-hundred days out of the year.....you were after the perfect wind flow.....of at least three-hundred days a year. The more....the better.
These people arguing against the windmills coming into the Taunus area? They are the same environmentalists telling people a decade or two ago of the great changes coming to Germany's electrical grid, and how we'd all be clean in the future. It's comical in some ways to view these people arguing now against windmills and their expansion. They would accept windmills....but only in less populated, less scenic, and rural areas.....and if the wind was less.....well, it's just part of the acceptance we assume for such episodes.
The end of the fight? To be honest, there's a second fight brewing where some German electrical engineers want to build a massive line structure from north Germany into central Germany....bringing good clean windmill power from the North Sea to central Germany. Yeah, they've already put up maps and possible transmission line structure. And yes, folks are already getting hostile over these lines being put up across their scenic valleys and landscape.