Wind is “Free”

We enjoy Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens. A beautifully manicured garden in the middle of a big city.

In their new visitor’s centre there is now an exhibit on Energy, Food, and the Environment. I could not help but notice from afar the poster about “Energy” which prominently displayed a windmill. Moving closer I saw the message which is apparently that “wind is best since it’s free!”.

By the same criteria all energy sources are free at the point it’s mined from the earth.

What’s so special about Wind being “free” compared to other sources of energy? I accept that as long as the sun shines we’re likely to have some amount of wind and hence “renewable” to the extent that the wind continues to blow. Further, I accept that other sources of energy may have limited quantities residing on earth, thus are not automatically “renewable”.

But what does “free” mean and why is this the feature of this poster? Are they trying to say that we can get something for nothing and it’s easy to do so?

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3 Responses to Wind is “Free”

  1. fujirobin says:

    I can only think that free means that there is no fuel cost, and it pitches up of its own volition at the generating station, so there is no delivery cost either. Thereafter is another issue…

    • fujirobin says:

      and I suppose that fuels mined from the ground may be subject to territorial ownwership rights, whereas wind isn’t…. and that wind can’t be directed or be subject to extraction rights like river water flows… an interesting question!

  2. rms says:

    Yes, wind current is not subject to territorial ownership rights … but imagine a world where the upwind country “took” all the wind (or modified the downwind weather/climate). Compare to the current situation of rivers in some locations where this leads to turmoil, and sometimes in history–to war. Yes, the nature of wind is such this unlikely unless we make “huge” towers, but then they are getting pretty big and if/when these are the only machines producing power who’s to say this is not a risk? And is this risk greater or less than AGW? Who knows?

    Somewhere on this blog is a photograph–perhaps a result of PhotoShop–which shows and aerial view of a windfarm with a trail of downwind clouds formed at each wind tower. They might do something to the atmosphere.

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