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Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs spiral

Economics, more than politics, is causing the greatest drag on wind power as Liberals look for light at the end of the wind tunnel.

Martin Regg Cohn — Toronto Star — December 10, 2013

Who would have imagined Ontario as Ground Zero for the global anti-wind movement, pitting people power against wind power? Instead of a low-carbon environment, the governing Liberals generated a highly toxic political environment.

Yet it is economics, more than politics, that is causing the greatest drag on wind power today. Diminishing returns have prompted the Liberals to tilt against wind turbines.

The pace of future wind expansion will be scaled back over the next 20 years, according to the Long Term Energy Planreleased this month by the government. The latest plan is a belated admission that previous energy plans were off target.

To understand how much the Liberals miscalculated, it’s worth looking at another report that preceded this one. Prepared for influential clients in the energy industry by global consulting firm IHS-CERA, the title of this private study says it all: “Too Much, Too Fast — The Pace of Greening the Ontario Power System.”

It treats our wind turbines as a case study on how greening the power system can plunge it into the red. A cautionary tale for international clients, the report would have been essential reading for provincial energy planners as they looked for the light at the end of our wind tunnel:

“What happened in Ontario . . . provide(s) universal lessons regarding how a simple, appealing, but unrealistic idea can intersect with the political process and set in motion environmental policies that run counter to the underlying costs and complexity of the electric power sector.”

Over the past decade, the government rapidly signed contracts for 10,000 megawatts of wind and solar — exceeding the coal capacity it had targeted for elimination. Yet dirty coal and clean wind are not interchangeable, despite the equivalency implied in the Liberals’ successful campaign pitches.

You can burn coal (or natural gas) when needed. But you can’t make the wind blow on demand.

In Ontario, “wind conditions tend to produce power least when consumers want powermost.” Additional wind capacity requires more standby power from natural gas — which explains why the Liberals had to build (and in two cases, cancel) so many gas-fired power plants.

“This back-up requirement meant that as a source of new power supply, the integration of wind by natural gas-fired technologies was 30 per cent more expensive” than by gas alone.

Another problem: You can’t make the wind stop blowing.

“Wind conditions tend to produce power most when consumers need power least . . . . Overgeneration creates an operational problem that requires reducing output from hydro, nuclear, and/or wind generators.”

Unfortunately, most of that unneeded wind power didn’t displace dirty coal, but forced costly cuts in clean hydro and emissions-free nuclear power. Ramping down hydro is hard, given natural water flows. Nuclear shutdowns are expensive, given the hefty restart costs.  Read full article, here….

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3 Comments on “Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs spiral”

  1. Jim Wiegand December 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    It is easy to imagine that Ontario or somewhere like it would be ground zero. The people are more in touch with the land. They see their world changing and understand the destruction coming from this industry.

    They understand that the wind industry is hiding a turbine related bird and bat genocide.

    They understand the industry lies about energy projections.

    They understand that “green” is just a propaganda based logo for fools.

    They understand that corporate interests are fleecing their tax dollars and politicians are helping them.

    They understand that they can not trust their government so they must arm themselves with knowledge and a grass root support system in order to kill this industry.

    They understand that species extinction is coming from these turbines and they are not willing to say goodbye.

    They understand that property values plummet and communities are always degraded by these monstrosities.

    They know these turbines will have no part in saving this planet.

  2. Mike Jankowski December 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    The whipping boy media has already moved today to alter people’s perceptions as to why their bills continue to increase – this time leaving the Ontario Pwer Corporation out to dry. They say their salaries are in many cases far above benchmark averages (Accounting Manager normally paid $140k is making $240k at OPC) yet the key point is – this issue has always been there, it has not changed near as much as our bills have and will. No, it is the effect of paying Wind Companies for their work and giant IWTs as well as the start of many Feed In Tariff agreements which are guaranteed for 20 years.

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  1. December – Articles and blogs. | shelliecorreia - April 10, 2014

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