Benefits of windmills on Yale building raise questions

Apr 6th, 2010 | By | Category: Energy, Energy Conservation, Wind

Last May, 10 one-kilowatt wind turbines were installed on top of the Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center to remind passing Yalies of the University’s sustainability efforts. But almost a year later, the turbines’ actual economic and energy savings value is still unclear.

While Tom Downing, the Office of Facilities’ senior energy engineer, said the turbines will pay for themselves, not including the cost of installation, in about eight years, two Yale engineering faculty members interviewed said they are skeptical the small turbines can generate enough electricity to be cost-effective.

via Becton windmills raise quixotic questions | Yale Daily News.

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2 Comments to “Benefits of windmills on Yale building raise questions”

  1. Charles Riddle says:

    Michael, that’s all fine and dandy if money didn’t mean anything. Since you appear to have a “frame” as you call it (now where did that bit of nonsense come from?)then perhaps you should pay the thousands of dollars for these things you think do so much.

    Try joining the real world where money doesn’t appear magically out of thin air. Your time and energy may be better spent finding or developing ways to create energy that better suit the environment and are cost effective. Unless, of course, it doesn’t fir into your “frame”.

  2. The frame that this article asks one to assume is also the frame that the Yale faculty members ask us to assume; namely, that the monetary payback is THE criteria we ought to be using to evaluate the benefit of this installation. The fact is, that is an arbitrary criteria that is disconnected from the real benefits the windmills provide. In fact, money is a contrivance that we create to facilitate trade. To assume that is an effective means for making environmental or moral decisions is incorrect and these faculty members should know better. Can you see the frame? Consider looking for the frames that are handed to you all day long – and then deciding if those frames serve you. Consider what real wealth is – beyond money, and choose your frame accordingly. The article states that there would have to be a lot more windmills to provide any meaningful energy savings. What does this mean? Each unit produces a certain amount of energy from the wind – more than if the machine wasn’t there in the first place. By the way, the wind is highly variable – anybody making statements about how these units perform are making big assumptions. But, again, this should not be enough to stop us from installing windmills – this information is only useful if the overriding criteria is – you guessed it – return on capital invested. By the way, who benefits the most from return on capital invested? You guessed right again (congratulations) – the owners of the capital! Now, who benefits from lower emissions to which windmills contribute? Right again – everybody.

    See, justice and environmental do below in the same sentence! Yale should name a school after that – School of Environmental Justice. Has a nice ring to it.

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