What does science say?
Much emotion has dominated the discussion of Vermont’s best path forward toward a transition to renewable energy. The time has come to let science have a say. Vermont has been home to windmills, solar farms, hydroelectric facilities and biomass plants for long enough for us to review the data, assimilate it and review it. All of these facilities have ongoing records of output under all conditions, including those somewhat unique to Vermont. The results could be compared with industry standards and predicted outputs and be presented to Vermonters as a vital part of a logical, science-based review, and from that review a clearer path forward.
Sweden has spent the last decades bolstering its already impressive renewable portfolio as part of a national security campaign. Sweden considers self-reliance vital to its long-term survival as finite resources become increasingly scarce. In reviewing data, they have found the long coastlines of the nation provide excellent wind resources and windmills are a welcomed part of the landscape. In contrast, the extreme northern latitude of Scandinavia makes solar power ineffective, and solar panels are present but scarce. Ample forests support the growth of biomass, and old hydroelectric facilities are being modernized to be more efficient and gentle in the harvest of the power of the many rivers.
Sweden and Vermont share many qualities. Breathtaking beauty, small size and forward-thinking attitudes are among them. Swedes also have strong emotion regarding renewable energy, but it is one of solidarity, not of division. It is based on science and thoughtful review as well as a communal desire to be protected from an increasingly volatile energy future. Vermont would be well served to follow the lead of Sweden and allow science and experience to play a prominent role in the future path of meeting our renewable energy goals. Let us assimilate the data, review it and use it wisely as a community known as Vermont.
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