Manitoba is 98% Hydro

LETTER OF THE DAY from the Winnipeg Free Press

Wind power inconsistent

Re: Build wind farm, Nov. 27.

Exactly why Dennis Trochim believes Manitoba would be especially proactive in building wind farms, regardless of whether the financially troubled firm Babcock and Brown is involved is hard to fathom. If this province depended largely on imported power, the proposal would make some sense; but since it gets about 98 per cent of its electricity from hydro, what’s the reason for any urgency?

We need to remember that in the U.S., if all the subsidies for wind power were to be removed, every wind farm in the country would have to close. The fact that Manitoba Hydro spokesmen were deliberately vague regarding the details of costs and revenues from the proposed project should trigger alarm bells, because they imply that subsidies aren’t out of the question here either.

In addition, wind power is hardly a paragon of reliability; in fact, it’s only 20 per cent efficient whereas modern coal, nuclear, and hydro plants are in the 80 to 90 per cent range. So a wind farm running 1.5-MW generators would need 2,800 of them covering nearly 71,000 hectares to match the 1,000 MW output of any of the other three counterparts.

This inefficiency is being demonstrated in Spain and Germany. In the former, despite some 14,700 MW of wind-generation capacity, 6,400 more had to be added to make up the electricity shortfall and not from wind, but from imported natural gas from North Africa. It was likewise in Germany, where, even with 20,000 wind turbines, natural gas consumption for electrical generation doubled between 1990 and 2007, and 26 new coal-fired plants are also being added.

Like alternative energy in general, wind continues to be an inconsistent provider, so Manitobans should ask whether the Doer government is pushing it for practicality or just as a fashionable sop for the environmentalists.


Edward Katz



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