Engineers have cut the price of electricity derived from wind by about 80 percent in the last 20 years, setting up this renewable technology for a major share of the electricity market. But for all its promise, wind also generates a big problem: because it is unpredictable and often fails to blow when electricity is most needed, wind is not reliable enough to assure supplies for an electric grid that must be prepared to deliver power to everybody who wants it — even when it is in greatest demand.
The fact that the wind doesn’t always blow isn’t an energy generation problem. It’s an energy storage problem. Or an opportunity, if you chose to see it that way. Why not use the winter surplus wind to generate hydrogen from water. Rather than store all that explosive H2, the wind farm can convert it to methanol; which is similar enough to ethanol that it should be easy enough to get E85 vehicles to run on it. Why methanol? Because producing it will remove three atoms of CO2 from the atmosphere for every atom of H2. Methanol producing wind farms will be able to sell carbon credits along with that fuel. Also, burning that methanol in your car will result in no net carbon increase. Nothing I am saying is new. One wonders why the Times is missing this.