Letter - Musings on green energy and wind power

The Regional

September 28, 2011

"Free" Wind

Greg Crone has been quoted recently in The Regional News, at least twice, as stating that a marvellous benefit of  wind power is that "wind is free." Well, in a manner of speaking, all energy sources are free - running water, sunlight, wood, as well as coal, petroleum, natural gas and uranium in the ground 0 all of them free. Each also has adverse consequences when you extract energy from them. Heaven knows, it costs us all a lot of money to generate power from the "free" wind. I don't think I can afford any more "free" stuff from the government.

I would not be the first to suggest that, if a large wind farm was planted close to Queen's Park, and all turbines aimed at the legislature, the endless supply of wind could be used to generate enough power to rival Niagara Falls. Filibusters could be scheduled for peak demand periods.

Wind is the prima donna of energy sources. It is unpredictable and unreliable. It only provides power to the grid when it decides to, and when it does, you are obliged to pay full price, whether or not the load demand exists for it. You may even have to pay someone else an additional premium to take it away when you cannot use it yourself. I may have missed it, but I don't recall the wind power lobby explaining that, just like the prima donna, wind power needs an expensive understudy in case of failure to perform.

Industry reports out of Germany state that conventional power plants must always be on standby - up to 90% of total wind power capacity - to ensure power grid stability. So, conventional power plants aren't going away any time soon. Has no one wondered why new gas powered generating plants are being built at strategic locations throughout the GTA - excepting, of course that ones in Oakville and now Mississauga that the jumpy Liberals have shelved, at least until after the election? Once again, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Green jobs.

Does anyone really believe that thousands of "green" jobs will exist in the long term? Throughout the world, wind farm developers build their largest components locally, principally towers and blades, because they are too large to transport economically. However, once the installations are built out, and enough spare components are manufactured, there is no further need for local manufacturing. Plants will be closed and those jobs will evaporate. Only a few jobs will remain to maintain the installations, until they become obsolete and are decommissioned.

Bob Gaunt

R.R. #2, Hagersville