Greg Laden has scooped me about a well-intentioned (but perhaps half-baked) idea to make New Jersey more green by replacing the wreck-damaged barriers on the Turnpike with devices that would catch the wind from passing vehicles, perhaps using the energy to power the light rail system. To tell you the truth, I haven’t heard anything about this plan at all, perhaps because I’m not that plugged in to local news but maybe because it sounds awfully silly. The Uber Review has some figures of the proposed technology, the original story being found at MetropolisMag. As Greg and others have pointed out, the amount of traffic required to power the light rail system would clog the already busy turnpike as well as dump even more pollutants into the air, so such a system could only act as a supplement to the light rail’s power source rather than replace it. I also have to wonder about repairs; there’s enough trouble on the turnpike because of road repairs and construction; what’s it going to be like if batteries of these wind-catchers break down? I don’t think this technology will catch on and if the desire is to acquire energy to power the light rail, solar panels are (to me at least) a much more sensible choice. So much time is being wasted on ideas like hydrogen power, biofuels, and other technologies when solar power and electric vehicles are a lot closer to allowing us to change the way we acquire and consume energy, and to me it makes me think that large energy, automotive, and fossil fuel companies are dragging their feet and paying attention to less-than-optimum methods of acquiring and using energy so they can continue to make money off a resource that becomes more valuable as we use it up. I’m not suggesting that electric cars and solar panels will solve all our problems and that no other avenues should be pursued, but why isn’t there a bigger push to develop technologies that already could be powerful in making positive change?