Where the wind takes you…

We made it Colorado yesterday! Now there’s no more travelling for a couple of months – thanks to some generous close friends we’ve made camp at their house situated in between Boulder and Denver.

The journey across Wyoming to get here was more interesting then the landscape appeared to offer; pretty much the whole 360 miles from the I-90 Montana-Wyoming border in the north to the I-25 Wyoming-Colorado border in the south looks familiar.

One of the ‘interesting’ and unmissable anomalies in the landscape was a vast array of wind turbines, visible due north while driving on the I-25 between Casper and Douglas. I couldn’t take a picture of it safely while driving, so researching online post-trip, I believe what we saw was the Glenrock (Rolling Hills) Wind Farm.  Here is an image taken from another blogger (I’ll come back to the source later), which is similar to what we saw from the road.

glenrock-turbines-from-9-miles-distance-3

Wyoming is a strange one when it comes to wind energy. On one hand, it is the state with the best wind potential. It has ample wind, frequently gusting out of the mountains to the west, and plenty of land. But it also has a very strong history with fossil fuels, with a very vocal population who are deeply passionate about the vast, wide-open landscape.

It’s a fascinating problem that Wyoming has, and one which appears to be quite polarising, and the Glenrock wind farm sums it up nicely.

The land the wind farm is operational today, used to be a coal mine. Some argue it represents a progressive and positive symbol in the transition to a low-carbon energy future. But while people in the UK may think that wind energy is a controversial topic, the strong feelings simply don’t blow near enough hot-air as they do in Wyoming (poor attempt at a pun, I know!). On average, the UK population are accepting of the science regarding climate change, and very accepting of wind energy (especially if it’s NIMBY off-shore instead). Wind energy in Wyoming doesn’t just face opposition in terms of landscape change, but also arguments exist where people feel they can’t fight climate change because man-made climate change is not even real.

I want to try and stay away from politics as much as possible with this blog, but some issues can’t avoid it. Wyoming is a staunch republican (conservative) state, where western-rural values are strong. And while the graphic below shows that there is plenty of support for wind energy across the political spectrum in the US, it is more of hot-potato in Wyoming due to the bigger fossil-fuel, western-rural influence. You can’t blame them at all for the amount of opposition generated (again, another poor attempt at a pun!)

PS_2016.10.04_Politics-of-Climate_2-03

So articles about the political/legal opposition, and blogs with stout local opposition are not uncommon,  but maybe opinions are on the change?

Perhaps the way renewable energy, whether it be wind or otherwise will win over Wyomingers hearts and minds will be to ensure the opportunities potentially provided by the sector don’t just ease and replace those dying out from fossil fuels, but even help them to prosper. Regardless of the point-of-view, surely a win-win for everyone is the best way forward? Or perhaps it’s the consistent demand for there being a win-win situation which is holding certain things back…

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