A runaway JLENS aerostat highlights the uncertainty and risks of pie-in-the-sky green energy schemes.
Guest essay by Tom Scott
One reason that a fragile naked human species has adapted to conditions in every corner of every continent is its ingenuity. Its is simply impossible to know the limits of homo sapiens. That said, one tactic of the green blob, used to rationalized the destruction of existing energy infrastructure, has been to throw out the possibility of one “free energy” scheme after another while ignoring or actively hiding the unknowns, risks, costs, and public dangers associated with each new proposal.
But first a quick review for those who did not see the news reports. On October 28th a 240 foot long (80 meter) aerostat, or tethered blimp, broke loose from its mooring and drug 6,700 foot of cable for some distance, apparently knocking out power for about 20,000 customers. This blimp was one of several in a multi billion dollar Federal system call JLENS. Two aerostats have been in service for less than a year in a Baltimore suburb, but this is at least the second time one of the devices has broken loose.
How could such a thing happen? At least one comment to the Baltimore Sun article referenced below was right on point.
“I worked on the PTDS (very similar) balloons in Afghanistan for a year and what they don’t tell you is that it’s not really the “wind” that makes them break free, it’s the slack and then sudden tension applied to the tether. You are NOT going to stop it. We lost millions of dollars worth of balloons over there.”
The JLENS aerostat operates on a 10,000 foot long cable. Consider for a moment some of the proposed power schemes wherein huge fleets of devices would float 20,000 feet overhead, tethered by 30,000 foot long cables, and collect/generate lots of “free” power.
What could possibly go wrong with that scheme? Not to mention the huge areas of airspace which must be confiscated from public use because of the cables and their swing and unpredictable catenary.
It would be impossible to make a blanket claim that pie-in-the-sky energy schemes could never work. And I applaud anyone who would apply intellect, hard work, and their own investor’s money toward innovative schemes. But a bird in hand is worth 100s of unproven ideas.
Until a concept is tested and proven by experience and a long operating record, and its costs and benefits are truly known, it can never be properly compared to a real production system, much less serve as a rationale for destroying existing infrastructure. If you think otherwise, I suggest you browse the past 90 years or so of “Popular Mechanics”, “Mechanics Illustrated”or “Popular Science” and then ask yourself why so many of those great-sounding ideas never made it past a drawing board and into everyday life.