13 July 2007

Rocky Flats goes from bombs to wildlife

This one raised a chuckle. The Department of Energy (DOE) in the US has announced that its Rocky Flats site, the place where it used to make nuclear weapons, is to Become National Wildlife Refuge. Nothing odd in that, Chermobyl is also something of a haven for widlife, but 30 years or so ago the place also got up to some more peaceful stuff. It was a test bed for wind turbines.

Like many countries, the US threw cash at research into renewable energy in the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s. Lots of money then went into renewable (then called alternative) energy, including wind power.

The DOE was proud of its efforts in this area. At least it stopped people from talking about bombs. So when the American Association for the Advancement of Science was in Denver, Colorado, it invited the press along to hear about wind power. Just one problem, for any Brits present, the passport they had asked us all to bring didn't work. So we sat in the bus while all the Americans present sat through what was probably a fascinating account of what the DOE was up to.

It may not have been the equivalent of the "curse of Gnome" but a couple of weeks later a mighty storm came through and flattened all of those dinky little windmills.

Somehow, accounts of this episode do not seem to feature much in the modern revival of wind power.

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