You might think the idea of wind power generators are cool when you see them from your car when passing areas like the San Gorgonio Pass in Southern California, along the 10 freeway heading towards Palm Springs. The site is awe-inspiring—many of the wind turbines blades span over 100 feet, and the structures themselves are frighteningly tall. Currently, wind turbines account for a tiny percentage of California’s power usage. If reliance on wind power were to dramatically increase to, say 25% of our state’s power consumption, wind turbines would be literally everywhere. Then, all of the sudden wind power isn’t so cool anymore. Thousands of acres of formerly public land would be declared off limits to hikers, mountain bikers, and all sorts of other outdoor recreationalists. Picturesque vistas and panoramas would be ruined, dominated by massive spinning structures. Silence and solitude would be lost amidst the ever-present low frequency hum of the gargantuan propellers. Birds wouldn’t be too happy either—thousands would be killed each year trying to navigate airspace made dangerous by the spinning blades. Formerly pristine and undisturbed land would be cut to pieces by miles of new service roads. The negative environmental impact of widespread wind-power proliferation would make oil-drilling and strip mining seem like “green” practices by comparison, unless, of course, you don’t spend any time outside, ever.
There is a way to eliminate some of wind power’s negative environmental impact, at least on dry land. Plans are underway to build a massive offshore wind generation facility in Delaware. Already making electricity in various places around the world (in Sweden, for example) offshore wind turbines alleviate some of the negative impact, unless you’re a commercial fisherman or yachtsmen trying to navigate through theses spinning obstacles at night during gale-force winds—scary indeed.