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Rural and Mining Temporary Use of Wind and Solar

Julian Silk's picture
Adjunct Professor
  • Member since 2010
  • 30 items added with 1,443 views
  • May 26, 2021
  • 314 views

This is just an idea, and has not been worked out in detail.  But the West Virginia economy has been hurt by the decline in coal use, both before and during the pandemic.  The site below reports this as of 2020:

wvnews.com/news/wvnews/wv-coal-production-down-30-due-to-impact-of-pandemic/article_9855481a-9f92-540f-848d-3703a7681126.html

There are small portable wind generation systems, such as this one by KiteX. 

interestingengineering.com/portable-wind-turbine-generates-energy-to-power-your-electronics

But has any thought been given to having some sort of fleet of larger wind or solar systems that could be leased to hard-hit locations, allowing them to get revenues with tax equity or the like, and then having some sort of incentive program to have new development?  I am thinking of the negative income tax proposed by Milton Friedman as sort of a model for this, and wondering if some sort of temporary wind system could be developed for West Virginia.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 26, 2021

Really interesting idea, Julian. Hoping our community has some insights to share about why that would or wouldn't work-- but either way it's a great point that we need to keep hard hit areas like West Virginia in mind as we work on policy supporting the energy transition. 

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on May 27, 2021

Thank you very much for this most gracious reply. West Virginia is still dealing with mine runoff in the Cheat River, as in
https://www.wvpublic.org/news/2018-06-11/from-polluted-to-playground-its...

The coal miners are not being fully employed, and if they were able to extract the coal, the water treatment system could work better. The renewable leasing could provide the money to temporarily employ the miners, and someone smarter than me will have to explain what particular sense it makes for the miners to be kept idle when they could reduce expenses for the state.

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Oct 20, 2021

Dear Folks,

Aside from the very gracious Matt Chester, there has been no comment on this idea.  But it is basically the same idea as the idea of sheep grazing under the solar panels to control vegetation.  In addition to the very recent article on solar sheep from David Dodge of Green Energy Futures about the Canadian experience, there is also https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/grazing-sheep-on-solar-farms in Michigan.  For cloudy but windy climates, it might be worthwhile to have small wind turbines, and place the solar panels in such a pattern that you sacrifice some of the possible electricity output but maximize total electrical output.  Since the Canadian panels are effectively being rotated, or at least moved, the same labor might be involved in putting in the small turbines, and the numbers could add up.

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