CanWEA’s ramping up rhetoric
While Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), was all smiles at the trade association’s recent conference and exhibition in Calgary he must be concerned that the world is wising up to the unabashed conclusion: industrial wind turbines do nothing more than drive up electricity prices! At the start of the conference Hornung launched “A Wind Energy Vision for Canada”, full of selective information aimed at rallying those present so they push the agenda and keep the gravy train rolling.
The CanWEA “vision” says nothing about how wind power projects affect humans by generating audible and inaudible noise along with infrasound or how they are responsible for killing birds and bats or even how they need back-up power when the wind is dormant. The latter means the costs of delivering a kilowatt hour (kWh) of generation needs fast response back-up power at the ready to ramp up within minutes. Failing available back-up generation (usually natural gas) to respond to IWT cyclical, intermittent and unreliable generation would impact electricity grids causing brownouts or blackouts.
The CanWEA “vision” links to an October 1, 2018 posting on their website that brags about a variety of different issues, making claims like as “New wind energy would help keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable, as well as more affordable.” And, this one: “Canada can get more than one-third of its electricity from wind energy”. CanWEA backed this up by saying: “Other jurisdictions around the world are proving this – for example, Denmark now produces more than 44 per cent of its electricity from wind turbines on an annual basis”.
What they fail to mention is that Denmark has the most expensive electricity costs in the EU with prices equivalent to Canadian $0.45cents/kWh.
A “Vision” claim The “vision” makes many claims that are spurious, including this one about environmental sustainability: “Wind energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, air or water pollution, nor hazardous, toxic or radioactive waste.”
That is superficial. Why? The intermittent and unreliable nature of wind requires it to be backed up with responsive generation generally in the form of natural gas or coal plants. This is evident in particular in Germany (electricity prices are the 2nd highest in EU) where a recent article stated “Despite the billions spent on wind and solar, the country is still hooked on coal, relying on it for almost 40 percent of its electricity. Coal provides the backup power needed when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining, something that will become even more crucial when the last nuclear plants close in 2022.” The claim that wind turbines don’t produce greenhouse gases may be somewhat true, but due to their unreliable nature they cause greenhouses gases to be generated by their back-up fossil fuel plants.
The CanWEA statement suggesting wind turbines don’t cause “air or water pollution” can also be easily disputed. The spinning blades kill birds and bats and produce a range of noise emissions(audible and inaudible) which are linked to health problems.
We have also seen how construction and operation of turbines may be involved in the contamination and failure of wells as noted in Chatham Kent where well water was affected. Hydrologist Bill Clarke noted: “Simply stated, wind towers, for generating electrical power, should never have been constructed over the extremely fragile contact aquifer of the Kettle Point shale” where 19 families experienced distinct, observable changes in their well water, which expresses itself as cloudy and often includes dark particulates.
It should also be noted that while the fuel powering the turbines is non-polluting, the average 400 tons of cement securing the turbines towers and the turbines and generators along with those blades are simply full of both toxic and hazardous waste, some of which is not recyclable!
More rhetoric CanWEA wasn’t finished with the bombast.
On November 1, 2018 their blog carried this post: “Cancelling renewable energy contracts in Ontario will negatively impact investor confidence”! Why? Well, the lobbyist group said, “Investors rely on the rule of law and contract rights when they scope, build and operate projects in the province. Calls for cancelling contracts and stranding assets shakes investor confidence and risks undermining Ontario’s investment climate – and at the wrong time and for the wrong reason.”
CanWEA naturally ignored the fact that the rebellion on Ontario electricity prices was caused by renewable energy (wind and solar) being granted first to the grid rights and long-term contracts with prices exceeding what other markets were paying. Those excessive electricity costs have driven investment out of the province in droves commencing with the passing of the Green Energy Act when, shortly after passing, Xstrata announced it would close its Timmins smelter and move it to Quebec. One of the reasons for the closure was the high cost of electricity.
In a further effort to colour the costs to Ontario’s ratepayers of wind turbines, CanWEA proffered this reputed benefit: “The province’s wind sector will generate $12.5 billion in investment in Ontario in the 2006-2030 timeframe. Along with that investment will come 64,500 person-years of employment, $4.6 billion in earnings for Ontarians, and an additional $6.2 billion in provincial GDP.”
But that claim does not note the investment will extract approximately $45 billion from ratepayer’s pockets over the 24 years “2006-2030,” meaning the claimed investment will be returned four-fold! Likewise, those 64,500 person-years of employment with the claimed $4.6 billion in earnings amounts to a miserly $3,000 per job when spread over those same 24 years.
The time has come for companies involved in industrial wind projects to pack their bags and find another country with gullible politicians!