Friday, June 03, 2011

Battling Ontario's Anti-Wind NIMBYs

Environmental Defence has a nice take-down of John LaForet and the gang at Wind Concerns Ontario. Below is my favourite bit, because it answers a question that has bothered me for awhile:

A big part of the anti-wind activists’ argument regarding viability is that the wind does not blow all the time – the power is intermittent. While this is true, the fact that wind power is part of an overall electricity system connected to multiple wind projects in different places, other electricity sources, and other jurisdictions who can trade electricity means that intermittency can be planned for and dealt with. Indeed, it is being successfully dealt with in countries likeDenmark, Germany, and Spain which already have much higher levels of wind power on their grids than Ontario does.


Digging deeper, anti-wind activists claim that wind power must have polluting electricity sources as backup, which just isn't true. Even if it were, it's bizarre to argue for dropping the clean part of the mix, leaving only the dirty part. The reality is that every megawatt hour of wind power delivered to the grid is a megawatt hour that does not have to come from someplace else, clean or otherwise.

At about 2 per cent of Ontario’s electricity output by fuel type,18 wind’s intermittency is currently easily dealt with by other sources. Hydro, for example, accounts for about 20 per cent and can be used as a type of storage, drawing down water levels when wind is low and letting them build up when it is strong. Ontario could also explore pumped storage at hydro facilities, using wind power during strong wind periods to pump water back behind dams to release for power later.19 With a better tie-in to the hydro-rich Quebec grid and more electricity trading with that province, the wind-hydro synergy could improve even more. Manitoba, for example, just signed a $4 billion deal with Minnesota to trade wind and hydro power.20

Finally, anti-wind activists allege that wind power isn’t viable because it is too expensive. It must be pointed out that if cost is their concern, then they should be arguing against nuclear power, currently Ontario’s largest and most expensive source of power, but we rarely hear this from them.

On a somewhat related note, this was a clever prank.  Here's the Facebook page.


The Mound of Sound said...

I have long wondered about LaForet's agenda. He seems to have latched onto this after a couple of failed attempts at muni politics.

WindConcernsOntario seems to me to be almost cult-like in nature. They uncritically embrace anything that seems to support their premise, even stuff that's inconsistent or contradictory with other claims. They don't even try to respond to contrary evidence or obvious criticism of their claims.

bigcitylib said...

But that's what NIMBYism's about.

Anyway, what I'd like to know is if they're really grassroots or if they've hooked up with some anti-wind-industry funding (or some combo thereof).

jkg said...

They have shot back, though, in their reply, they claim they are Self-funded .

This line of argument they have repeated again:
Environmental Defence, the CMOH survey and an earlier survey by the Canadian Wind Energy Association acknowledge annoyance but do not consider it an adverse health effect; the World Health Organization considers both annoyance and sleep deprivation to be adverse health effects. In turn and over time, annoyance and sleep deprivation lead to other adverse health effects.

Is it true people are really suffering from adverse health effects and are living away their homes? They seem to claim that a lot.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sleep deprivation can be more than a health concern. It can be a war crime. Emphasis on "can" as in, "in some circumstances." They want you to leap blithely over these qualifications and circumstances and then accept that wind turbines are health threats. They propound so the burden is on them to prove their claim by sound evidence. And, as we're talking a scientific matter, that means peer-reviewed research. They don't even come close to that. Their arguments aren't scientific but rhetorical, bordering on sophistry.

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