I just recently responsed to someone from Saskatchewan about his commentary on an article for a western ag. paper.
Again, we can see how perception is reality when it comes to deciding whether wind development is a good thing. Have a look below, the comments in red are my replies. It always astounds me, like my first posting, how the general public perceives those who are facing the prospect of having wind turbines development. Because they latch onto to these motherhood statements, wind is clean, wind is renewable, wind will help save the family farm, etc, etc. etc. we who wish to question the convention, are now considered disreputable, non-progressive, or simple nay-sayers. My experience has always told me that when something is too good to be true, it usually is.
Column # 684 Wind Turbines Come Under Fire 25/08/08
> The debate over alternative liquid fuels like ethanol is fairly easy to
> understand. After all, it takes large amounts of fossil fuels to produce
> the corn or other crop needed to produce the ethanol. Is their really
> any net benefit from the process, or are biofuels just a sneaky way to
> get taxpayers to subsidize farmers? How are farmers getting a subsidy from the production of ethanol? Here in Ontario, the Chatham plant is largely using U.S. corn and as a producer I have yet to see an increase in my corn revenues due to subsidized ethanol production. If you read the market news, the largest reason why corn price increased (which have dropped dramatically in the last two months) was because of fuel prices and market speculators.
> The debate over wind turbines is a little tougher to comprehend. You
> can’t challenge the energy balance of the electricity-producing towers,
> which have become popular with governments around the globe. You would
> think environmentalists would be similarly enthralled with the idea of
> replacing coal or nuclear powered electrical plants with emission-free
> wind power. Where do you get the idea that wind is emission free or is able to replace nuclear or coal?, in fact E.On in Europe notes that 92% of wind power has to be backed up by fossil fuel generation in order to compensate for wind’s intermittent nature. Germany (a country with the largest penetration of wind energy) is building over 20 new coal generated plants and Canada is still looking at coal generation in the future. (see below)
Coal power to remain important part of Canada’s supply
The federal regulatory agency said in its briefing note, titled “Coal-Fired Power Generation: A Perspective,” that coal-fired generation will decline; however, it expects that an estimated 10,000 MW of capacity will be installed by 2030.
Canada’s coal reserves are roughly equivalent to its oil reserves, and coal-fired generation represents more than 16,200 MW, or 13%, of the nation’s installed power generation. In 2006, about 16% of the country’s electricity (mostly in Alberta and Ontario) was generated from coal. Coal-fired generation is nonexistent in provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec that rely on hydroelectric resources.
Uncertainty about the direction of the future greenhouse gas regulations and the cost and reliability of newly developed clean-coal technologies will impact the consideration of coal-fired generation as a practical investment and limit the opportunity for increased coal-fired generation, the agency said.
The energy brief provides a rundown of the nation’s latest technological developments concerning coal-fired generation. Concerning integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), the NEB said that at present, the levelized unit cost of power generation is estimated at 15% to 20% higher than the next-best, supercritical coal-fired technology.
“If sufficient experience is gained, either from plants in other countries or pilot projects in Canada, IGCC has the potential to become the preferred technology for generating electricity from coal,” it said.
Likewise, if carbon sequestration and storage proves practical, it would address a major concern about coal-fired generation and tend to promote the construction of new coal-fired power plants and associated CO2 pipelines, the agency suggested.
> Germany leading the way. Germany plans to phase out its nuclear power
> and replace it with renewables. If you look at any new wind development in Europe, it is all off shore, away from people. Wind is a major factor in this decision.
> Germans are not only generating lots of electricity with wind power. Seem to me that 75% of Europes generation comes from fossil fuels. In Ontario it’s only 25%.
> They are generating significant numbers of jobs by being one of the
> largest producers and exporters of turbines. Germany is in fact promoting wind because of the manufacturing base they have subsidized to the hilt. See http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jul2…
> Some environmentalists, however, are not so happy about wind turbines. A
> recent editorial on wind power called them an assault on human well
> being, a threatening monster jammed down the throats of neighbors and
> localities. The idea seems to be that wind turbines offend the senses by
> their presence on the skyline, and thereby degrade the human spirit.
> use of renewable energy sources has failed to curb growth in oil and gas
> consumption. Rather, it has simply been part of a large overall increase
> in energy consumption globally – an increase that is having serious
> environmental impacts.
> The environmental movement is split on the approach to wind power and
> other renewables. Some groups endorse these strongly, while a few
> smaller ones are vocal in their opposition for the reasons given above.
> The simple fact is that we are a society hooked on high energy
> consumption, and our consumption is rising yearly, both for personal and
> industrial use. So does this mean we should be seeking a source of energy that is at best 35% efficient? The latter is huge in Canada, as vast amounts of energy
> are consumed in the production of tar sands oil.
> Farmers generally view the advent of a wind turbine not as some looming
> monster, but as a welcome addition to the income their land might
> generate and for the jobs created (and how many jobs will that be? the project planned for my area will give jobs to 60 people for 1 year than approx. 4 jobs to an outside firm that has no base in my municipality) , albeit few, in the maintenance of the
> turbines. On a personal level, I polled my rather environmentally
> conscious family about their feelings toward wind towers. It was quite
> positive. We tend to see them not as a blight on the horizon, but as an
> elegant and graceful way to generate electricity. Easily said by someone who doesn’t have to live with them 24/7 and only @ 300 m to 600 metres away. Europe easily has most of their turbines a min. of 1 km and based on World Health Organization guidelines, noise levels should not be above 40 db during the day and 35 db at night. Min of Env. in Ontario allows turbines to go up to 53 db’s no matter the time of day.
> I am not really clear on the link anti-turbine groups make between the
> over consumption of energy by our society and the production of energy. Any energy analyst can tell you that conservation is the most cost effective way to increase our energy supply and keep costs down. see
http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/The-Fraser-Institute-894429.html. Seems to me that monies used to subsidize the wind industry would be better spent in areas of energy efficiencies. > It seems to be the belief that the more we produce the more we will
> consume. Since few of us have any awareness of the amount produced, that
> seems unlikely. You know as well as I do, that perception is reality for the general consumer and wind energy is being purpoted as being the answer to our energy woes. Many people in my area are under the elusion that their electricity costs will come down, because after all wind is “free”. Consumption of power, like consumption of alcohol and tobacco, is directly linked to our ability to pay. But I as a consumer have a choice of whether I want to buy tobacco or alcohol. I do not have the choice about heating my home for my family. The price of electricity in Europe is much higher than in Canada in large part because of the introduction of wind energy. Those with more money have bigger houses, drive bigger cars, have more energy consuming toys,
> take more airplane flights, buy more consumables and so on. See my point about energy conservation above.
> Wind power is expensive – at least in Saskatchewan it is more expensive
> than throwing another shovel of coal in the power plant. Not one coal generated plant in Ontario has all of the proper scrubbers they should have to help reduce emissions. I suspect something similar in Sask.? In this regard,
> using wind power should actually reduce energy consumption since it will
> make the price of electricity higher. So increasing the price is O.K. despite the fact that this leaves lower income people having to choose between eating and keeping on the lights, and despite the fact that your tax dollars are also subsidizing the electricity generated by mostly off shore companies.
> It is unfortunate that we apparently can’t see the real looming monster
> on the horizon. This is the vast increase in the cost of petroleum
> products that will take place over the next several decades as demand
> increases in heavily populated countries like India and China, and as
> conventional (cheap) supplies of oil decline.China and Africa have huge reserves of coal and are being berated by environmentalists to not use this cheap, effective source of energy. If wind energy is expensive for us, how is it these countries are going to be able to afford such an unreliable source. As this happens, economics
> will force some hard choices on us. Energy use will consume a much
> greater percentage of our personal incomes, leaving lower income people
> with some hard choices. Even the wealthy will have less money to throw
> Higher energy costs will hit rural people harder than urbanites. With no
> access to public transit, and having to travel further for all services,
> rural folk will spend a greater proportion of their income on energy. At
> some point, we will have to get really serious about reducing energy
> use. This will not be as hard as people seem to think. We used far less
> energy forty years ago, yet our lifestyles were quite similar. We were
> also healthier and some might even say happier. I would like to see the references you rely upon to make this kind of assumption. In fact it seems to me that the avg. age in the 30 and 40’s was closer to 60 years old while now it is 78 years old.
> But we will still need energy. Ontario at best will get 4% of their energy needs supplied by wind because this form ranges only 25% to 35% efficiency. Those looming monsters on the horizon,
> the wind turbines, will be part of that mix – a relatively clean, safe
> part. Get used to it. We should use the interval to make them as safe
> and efficient as possible. So as a neighbouring land owner, is it alright for wind developers to keep moving forward with wind projects despite the fact that there are problems? You are essentially treating rural people as second class citizens if your answer is yes. I have witnessed and heard from people suffering from wind development and this whole issue is not about letting wind being a part of the “mix” its all about making money and politicians interested in receiving kudos for appearing to have addressed an environmental issue.