Monday, April 13, 2009

The Importance of Wind Power

© Guerito 2005Image via Wikipedia

I just arrived back from a seminar that Calvin held, by Dr. Imad Mahawili, the Executive Director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. This man is taking an approach to renewable energy and resources that is one of the best that I can think of. The main sources of energy he is looking at are biomass and wind energy. Our lakes are some of the best places to harvest energy from in terms of size and potential. If we build wind-farms offshore far enough, they don't have to be an "eye-sore", which is what some claim. To be honest with you though, there are few man-made structures more beautiful than the windmill to me. Birds die from flying into windmills, this is a fact, but if the structures are far enough from land, the bird problem won't be an issue, as apparently they require food, which they largely get on land. Also, Dr. Mahawili brought up the statistic that cats eat on the order of ten times more birds than turbines can kill.
In Germany, there is an abundance of windmills. This comes from their commitment to losing no German lives in the pursuit of resources through war or other strife. If we invest sufficiently in turbines for our waters, not only would we reduce our emissions, but the amount of energy that we have to import from other states and countries. When we import as a state and country, we not only lose money, but we lose the jobs that the money funds elsewhere.
Biomass is another component that is worth investment. It does more than convert manure into fuel and energy. The sulfur is removed by bacteria, the residual water with essential nutrients is re-introduced to the fields with 90% of the E. Coli bacteria killed off, the leftover solids are not left in the fields to emit methane, but are re-processed and sold as fertilizer or bedding for cattle, so the process is very sustainable. This is a very real thing. In fact, Mahawili designed a plant that does this in West Michigan, which has been operational for almost two years now. The problem is that the company that built it is now working in Texas, doing this, which is great for Texas, but not Michigan.
The policy is not there yet, we need to work at it with the politicians, but it will take time. Dr. Imad Mahawili believes that an entrepreneurial approach is a sure and resourceful way around this, and so do I.
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Friday, April 10, 2009


...are going well, not amazing, but well. I got the research fellowship for this summer that I wanted, which is awesome. I'll be looking at ethanol extraction from an invasive woody shrub. Maybe more later on how that goes. I'm home now for Good Friday, and I get to hear one of my friends give the sermon tonight. Also, right now I'm going to play tennis with one of my favorite people. It's a good day, I hope yours is too.
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