According to a recent article in KLTW, our area is to be “blessed” with a massive influx of new “green” electrical generation (read: windmills and solar panels).
In all that has been written in the public press, little has been said about the real cost and the effectiveness of wind farms (an euphemistic term), and now solar panels. Rather the arguments against windmill installations have focused on health issues.
Currently there is about 1100 MWs of installed wind mill capacity in Ontario feeding into the Ontario electrical system. According to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, these windmills seldom reach anywhere near that rated capacity. As per their web site, in April 2009 (a windy month) the total output was only 41 per cent of the installed capacity. A typical summer month for the same year, the output was only 14 per cent of installed capacity. Not a very cost effective installation.
Since the turbines only put out 14 per cent of their capacity, the difference must be made up somewhere. After all, the wind doesn’t always blow. So when the output is zero, or close to it, some other form of generation has to make up the difference. Nuclear plants can’t change load rapidly to meet changing wind conditions. Hydraulic generating stations make power too cheaply to spill water. That load swing has to be made up by coal fired stations.
Since Mr. McGuinty wants to scrap all coal fired stations by 2014, and wants to increase windmill capacity during that time, what will offset power output swings from wind generation after coal plants are gone? Arguments have been offered that with more windmills, the difference will be made up by windmills in other areas of the province. Not likely so.
The wind blows across a swath of the province more or less equally. Therefore all windmills will follow a trend of max output for the conditions, to minimum output for the conditions at the same time leaving total power out put swings sometimes down to zero. Since the least wind is found in the heaviest load season, the summer, what makes up the difference with the coal fired stations gone.
The only big coal fired stations left are Nanticoke GS on Lake Erie, and Lambton GS on the St. Claire River with a combined output of 5560 MWs any time we want it. If we assume that a windmill can put out two megawatts, that would mean we would need 2,780 wind mills to match the capacity of the two coal fired stations to be done away with. Since our current crop of windmills has only a 14 per cent capacity factor, that equates to a lot of wind mills we need.
So what’s driving this massive push to “green energy?” Yes, I know, the environmental argument. If that is the case, why can windmills and solar panels bypass most of the environmental criteria? After all, they are an industrial installation and should be in an industrial park; however, as long as they are 550 m from your house they can be installed and you can’t do anything about it. Just let some other factory try that.
What’s driving this is not the environment, but money. Windmill companies are given significant amounts of money, by the government, to put these machines up. They are also guaranteed upwards of 80 cents/kw hr for power. This subsidy is given for a period of 20 years. The life expectancy of a windmill is 20 years. Anybody would put up a project like this with no environmental hassles, put it where you want, get money from the public purse to build it and get a guaranteed income for the life of the machine.
We are being scammed big time!
John Vincent, Woodville