If HQ installs 990 MW between now and 2112 (!!), I am not against it ! The city of Carleton is located in the Baie des Chaleurs, not along the St-Lawrence. The village of St-Ulric already has a wind generator farm (57 generators I think), the one referred to as Matane. St-Ulric is a small village, just beside Matane.
From: Jaro [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday November 17, 2004 10:31 AM
To: multiple cdn
Subject: [cdn-nucl-l] " Blowing cold on wind power "
Unfortunately there is no mention in this article of the ubiquitous media practice of deceiving the public with misleading figures (i.e. installed power production capacity versus actual energy production, taking into account typical capacity factors of ~15 - 30%). How is it that the media can report reasonably accurately on complex business and economic issues, but are generally so incompetent in the field of energy ?
Blowing cold on wind power
Not as good as it sounds. Wind power can cost twice as much as other energy sources while marring environment
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
In the 1980s, solar power caught the imagination of environmentalists and energy experts who saw the power of the sun as a way to save the planet from the scourge of fossil fuels like oil and gas. But 25 years later, very few people in North America or Europe light their living rooms or power their TVs from the sun.
Now wind power is being touted as the next saviour of the planet because it is so readily available and, supposedly, free. But wind is not so readily available as it appears at first glance. It does not blow at the same strength for 24 hours a day. And wind power is not free because it costs an enormous amount to construct dozens of the 75-metre-high towers needed to assemble a wind farm, and maintain it.
In addition, wind power causes its own vision and noise pollution problems, not to mention the probability the propellers will kill bird life, if put up on land, and disrupt shipping and ocean life, if built out at sea. None of this has grabbed the attention of Canadians yet but East Coast Americans and western Europeans are furiously debating advantages and disadvantages of wind power.
In Canada, Quebec and Alberta lead the country in wind-power generation but on Oct. 4, Hydro-Quebec announced major plans for the coastline of the beautiful Gaspe peninsula of Quebec between now and 2112 that will add 990 megawatts to Canada's wind power capacity from its present 440 megawatts. The government-owned utility says it will provide enough power for about 400,000 homes a year or four-fifths of the annual consumption of a large aluminum smelter.
Andre Caille, head of Hydro-Quebec, boasts that the $1.9 billion project: "Without doubt, (is) the beginning of a great adventure for Quebec."
Not everyone agrees. At least, few Quebecers were asked whether they supported the "great adventure" that will plant dozens of wind generators in the hills behind such small, scenic coastal towns as Baie des Sables, St.Ulric, Les Mechins and Carleton. These towns rest on the shoreline of the St. Lawrence where passes the much-travelled 400-kilometre-long tourist route known as Route 132.
A hint of the debate to come in Canada might be seen in the reaction to the first off-shore wind- power system in the United States, called the Cape Wind project, scheduled to be built in Nantucket Sound. A group called the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is lobbying against the scheme, arguing there is no regulatory system in place to judge the viability of wind-power projects. They also say there are no studies to provide residents of the area with economic impact or the cost to taxpayers, and no assessment of the degradation of the visual and historic values of the areas like Nantucket Sound.
The Alliance is backed by the Beacon Hill Institute in the U.S. which said in a May 2004 report, "The economic costs of the (Nantucket) project exceed the benefits by $209 million. Based on these numbers, it does not make sense, from a societal point of view, to build the project."
In April of this year, David Simpson of the David Hume Institute in Scotland - a major site for Britain's ambitious wind power program - said bluntly: "The message of the data is clear. At the present time, the financial cost of generating electricity from the wind is roughly twice that of generating electricity from the cheapest alternative conventional sources."
Added the influential British weekly, The Economist, in an article last July: "Wind farms disfigure the countryside and threaten to cost #1 billion ($2.2 billion Canadian) a year. From sacred cow to white elephant is a short jump." And a report from a private power company in Britain at the end of October said wind power was unreliable, inefficient and threatens power cuts.
Up to now in Canada, there has been no vocal opposition to the creation of giant wind farms in historic and scenic parts of the country and little public debate about the concept. One reason might be that none of this is real for city dwellers, whose playgrounds like Halifax Harbour, Mount Royal in Montreal, Toronto Island, a short canoe ride from the heart of the country's largest city, and Grouse Mountain, overlooking Vancouver, obviously will not be targeted for wind farms.
So, before we proclaim victory against our prolifigate use of fossil fuels in the last 50 years, politicians and environmental groups might ponder the huge costs in dollars and in environmental damage before 20-storey windmills festoon our coastlines, our sea lanes and our hills.
James Ferrabee is a senior consultant to the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP.org).
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