Wind turbines unlikely to save planet

By Laurie Kay and Sandy Oswick, Special to QMI Agency   London Free Press

The Ontario government, as a result of the Green Energy Act 2009, is planning to erect industrial wind turbines in several sites across the province.

“Good”, we said. “It’s about time.” After all, we are in favour of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, and wanting to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. And wind is a free, renewable resource, so this is good for all of us, right?

Boy, were we naive.

The plan is for mega turbines – nearly 50 storeys high – that dwarf the turbines we currently see along the Great Lakes. Lots of them: on farmland, and possibly out in the lakes.

If they’re going to save the planet, you’d probably give them the thumbs up, wouldn’t you? Well, it doesn’t take much digging to see that they’re not likely to save the planet.

Wind energy isn’t very efficient, according to William Palmer, an engineer who has presented internationally on the subject. He says that, because the winds come and go, wind turbines work at an average of 27% capacity. What’s more, Ontario has no ability to store wind energy, so what we don’t use immediately is wasted. Storage facilities could be created – at great cost – in addition to the huge cost of the turbines themselves.

In a perfect world, we shouldn’t demur at the cost, but countries like Britain, well ahead of us in wind energy, are now having to face the stark reality of “fuel poverty” – the cost of fuel exceeding one’s ability to pay. So, if wind energy is going to be expensive and inefficient, we’d like to know before we open our hydro bill.

Adding insult to injury, according to Palmer, is the fact the net effect of wind turbines on global warming is insignificant. Why? Because most of Canada’s harmful emissions are not caused by electricity production, and because the fossil fuel systems needed to back up wind power lose their efficiency when they have to be started, stopped and restarted as winds come and go. Further, we are shocked to learn that, despite its tens of thousands of wind turbines, Germany, the poster child for wind energy, has yet to close a single coal-fired plant.

But wait – it gets worse. Globally, in 2008-09, there were 35 cases of blade failure (blades breaking off and hurtling to the ground). People have been killed by these things. Canada’s blade failure rate is already four times greater than in Europe – not surprising when you consider extreme weather is a contributing factor.

Blade failure and ice thrown from blades would not be as concerning if turbines were installed away from populated areas, as they tend to be in Europe. But the Green Energy Act of Ontario has allowed industrial wind turbines to be built as close as 550 meters from homes. The World Health Organization recommends 1.5 to 2 kilometres, but in Ontario, we will soon have the largest wind turbines in the world, combined with the shortest setback distances in the world.

This presents another set of problems. Dr. Robert McMurtry, former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, says we really don’t know the long-term effects of wind turbines on human health. He says people all over the globe have reported ill effects, and the Ontario government is pushing its wind power plan through in the absence of conclusive research.

We think this is poor decision-making. Remember depo prevara, thalidomide, and UFFI?

Dr. Nina Pierpont, author of Wind Turbine Syndrome, says, “many people living within 2 km of these giants get . . . so sick that they . . . abandon (as in, lock the door and leave) their homes. Nobody wants to buy their acoustically toxic homes.” This process has become known as expropriation without compensation.

While we are sympathetic to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s plight, we’d like to see him do his homework. The wind energy campaign caters to that part of us that wants to believe it’s the right thing to do. Our son suffers from asthma – we’d love to see coal plants become a thing of the past. But the Ontario wind turbine plan is fraught with problems, We’d appreciate it if the government would at least be honest about what it’s getting us into. We don’t like being forced to buy a pig in a poke.

McGuinty says he’d like to be remembered as the education premier of Ontario. Let’s hope he’s not remembered as the premier who made us wiser but sadder.

28 thoughts on “Wind turbines unlikely to save planet

  1. People across Ontario are finally getting “clued in” on this Scam and the backlash will be “brutal”.

    Anyone involved in this “Wind Scam” from the beginning to now and that includes Wind Companies, NGO’s and Politicians of all levels of Government who have had a “vested interest” in promoting this failed Energy Scheme will pay the ultimate price!……DISMISSAL!

  2. Go to You Tube to see the New Trailer for the documentary ‘They’re Not Green’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpRe1VLpyVk#

    Visit the website.
    There are Episodes that show: how thousands of birds are killed every year at Altamont Pass; wind turbine blades are made of toxic
    materials (fiberglass, resins, epoxy) that are not bio-degardable; the manufacture and installation of each concrete wind turbine base produces
    250,000 pounds of CO2; Scientific reports show by 2020 Industrial Wind Power will have little effect on controlling CO2, etc.

  3. At last some in the main street media have become aware of the real truth about wind turbines.

  4. Great article. You said it (again), Quixote: SCAM.

    Wow, I had not heard about deaths by blade failure.

    The more I learn about this dangerous and harm-engendering scam, the more morally outraged I become.

    Another word for it is MAD!!!!

  5. Don’t get me wrong as I agree with much of the article. However, keep some of the facts in context. How many people have been killed by falling blades compared to coal mine accidents? With regards to bird deaths why don’t you shut down all lighthouses as some of them kill thousands of birds on migration?

  6. I do not know about exact numbers. For me, the point is that we should now make “do no harm” choices. Anything else is not good enough – and certainly not “green.”

    Anything that kills migrating birds shoud be removed/dismantled forthwith – and no more should be built – EVER.

  7. I agree, but I wanted to keep things in context. Power has to be generated somehow and for the present time coal, gas and nuclear are the main options to provide base load. Wind Turbines may have their day when or if the hydrogen economy becomes a reality. The gas can be produced by electrolysis on site without incurring large transport costs.

  8. “Power has to be generated somehow”.

    Indeed, it does. On the CBC last night, Peter Mansbridge was interviewing James Cameron, director of the environmental flick Avatar. Cameron has made a lot of press lately regarding Alberta’s oilsands. His power choice for the future? Nuclear. It’s reliable, actually produces power when you need it and is limited to a small surface area. His comment on nuclear waste: that’s a problem 500 years out, climate change (assuming it’s caused by humans) is a problem 50 years out.

    Nuclear is the way to go. Read Robert Bryces’s “Power Hungry” for confirmation of that fact.

  9. Evan et al:

    Suggesting that Wind Turbines could support the Hydrogen Economy is an interesting thought. Before you pursue it you might consider the investment that Canada has made — with no obvious or visible return on investment.

    http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/ibp/ifci.html

    I admit that the research page looks like a busy place — but where is significant commercial activity? Airships perhaps?

  10. If lighthouses kill birds, surely they could be replaced by something that does not.

    “Turbines may have their day…” Uh, why? They kill bats and birds by the thousands – so why would they have their day? Is this a “we are the only species that matters” suggestion?

    HELLO. Is anyone there who can abide such thinking for even one second?

  11. Claire:

    GPS Systems do fail, and lots of coastal traffic travels inland/inshore waters without benefit of anything but dead reckoning and visual aids such as buoys and lighthouses.

    Despite the efforts of previous federal governments to dismantle the navigation and lighthouse systems they are still required. ..and that is the way it is.

  12. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

    While I appreciate your comments and give your words my full attention, David, your phrase, “and that is the way it is,” does not cut it for me.

  13. Ironic, isn’t it, that it’s acceptable for birds to crash into human-built structures which are considered, by humans, to be “absolutely necessary;” but absolutely unacceptable for humans to crash into nature’s structures.

    It is gross illusion that humans matter more than any other earth-dwelling creature.

  14. Also ironic that human GPS systems fail because they are so utterly inferior to those of birds.

  15. Lighthouses were built before people started being concerned about birds. It is possible to change the colour of the light to deter them. But who is going to pay for them? Not the shipping companies who are increasingly refusing to pay nor the yachtsmen who don’t want to pay every time they are within site of a lighthouse.

    With regards to the bats it is also possible to site the turbines to avoid bat kills. For the species that I am familiar with, they do not fly far over water as they need trees, hedges, buildings etc to navigate. Therefore offshore turbines would be satisfactory for your concern. Similarly turbines situated on farmland away from trees would also cut the risk.

    That still doesn’t mean we need to have them!

  16. I question the information that lighthouses and skyscapers kill large numbers of birds at night.

    If this is true,then large numbers of dead birds whould have to collected and disposed of every day.

    Surely this would have attracted the attention of the press and general public over the years.

    One has to be careful of these so called studies that have been produced the last few years. Some are in the same catagory as all the other Chicken Little propagand put forth by econuts and greenies inorder to advance their green agenda.

  17. There are people who gather up the bodies in downtown Toronto early in the morning – many, many bodies.

  18. Evan Lynn, you seem to be arguing both for and against wind turbines.

  19. Birds migrate across the great lakes. Suggesting that turbines be sited offshore is B.S.

  20. Cumulatively, can we continue to build thousand of structures that kill additional birds and bats? Considering the number, placement and locations of industrial wind turbines they are destined to kill thousands for what gain? Why compare when the point is any killing is too much for the dismal energy gain.

  21. Yes, exactly, zen2then. Why continue to debate when they are completely and utterly unacceptable?

    How can harm be an option? IT IS NOT.

  22. My main objection to the turbines is that they do not provide continuous power. Myself I prefer the nuclear option.

    My point about the turbines in the Great Lakes was referring to bats.

  23. Inorder for the Global Warming scam to succeed the Middle Warming Period had to be gotten rid of.So all of the archaeological,historical and literary evidence proving the existence of the Middle Warming Period was just plain ignored inorder to advance the green agenda.

    Skyscrapers don’t seemed to have affected the pigeon populations in cities with large skyscrapers.It’s how the bird populations are affected that is the issue.

    No one seems to know or care about the turbulence produced by wind turbines which can be as great as the turbulence produced by 747 jet aircraft. Small birds and insects are sucked in by this turbulence.

    We all know the turbulence created by large semi-trucks when they pass by.This is nothing compared to the turbulence produced by wind turbines.

    If small aircraft can be turned upside down when they get too close to wind turbines,then you can see the dangers birds and insects are in when they get too close to wind turbines.

  24. We have no right to invade their airspace. It is a crime against nature, flying creatures – and, ultimately, against ourselves.

  25. It is human disregard and cruelty towards our neighbours of “other” species that is killing our beautiful planet.

  26. With large urban and suburban populations the question is which is better to build up or to build out.

    Building out means using more and more land and thus more habitat destruction.

    By now most people understand that destroying our environmnet will also endanger humans.

    Wind turbines will require that large amounts,in total, of farm land will be used that should be reserved for food production.

    We have sources of energy that will not require extensive land use.

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