Wind energy: health, cost, performance

I’ve got a two-story series in the Toronto Star that ran this week on wind energy. The first looks at claims that wind farms are causing some people living near them to become sick. The second looks at claims that wind energy costs too much, doesn’t achieve the claimed emission reductions, and simply fails to perform as promised.

I’ll let the stories speak for themselves.

I wrote these stories in response to some of the (mis)information out there and to stimulate some more reasoned debate.  There are too many extreme views circulating and neither side seems willing to bend. Bottom line is that wind isn’t a perfect solution, and it’s not the only solution, but we need it along with other renewable-energy technologies and conservation efforts. What I like about wind is that it has potential to break through its limitations as we move closer to utility-scale storage that’s economical. Yes, it relies on other dispatchable sources (particularly natural gas, but also hydroelectric and even demand-response), but 10 or 20 years from now that might not be the case. By then, we’ll have the best wind sites scoped out, we’ll have the transmission in place, and we’ll be ready to repower those sites in a way that dramatically unlocks more energy from the wind.

9 thoughts on “Wind energy: health, cost, performance”

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. I thought this was a good series. My main problem with these projects is that conservation is not taken nearly seriously enough, yet reduction of consumption would seem to amplify the effectiveness of these wind installations by increasing the chance that they can replace an older or dirtier form of generation.

    I imagine the grid will need a massive overhaul to support the installation of wind turbines here and there, rather in one big generation site… and will the cost of the grid overhaul be worth the benefits of wind generation?

    The best wind sites have already been scoped out, haven’t they? The problem is that they are very, very far from where anyone lives!

    Still, I agree that it should be part of the solution… but I’d rather we take conservation more seriously because it’s cheaper if we don’t have to generate in the first place. Sadly, I think the only way to do this will be through price increases.

  3. Very good articles Tyler. As a rabid wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and renewables fan, I hate seeing stories referring to wind as negative to health when in reality, we will never be able to prove it one way or another. I think the key is to listen, address as much as possible and implement province wide standards (as in the Green Energy Act) that will minimize the potential for any true harm.

    One of the issues that is really starting to drive me crazy is people who bring up the intermittency issue. If we were to install the full 13 500 MW of wind energy (reported to be under development in some way, shape or form) that is effectively half of our peak consumption. There will be a means to store this energy to resolve the intermittency issue, it is only a matter of time. Riverbank is a great example (thanks for reporting on that too!) of the ways to solve this problem, using existing technology.

  4. Great reporting, Tyler. It never ceases to amaze how much of the “commentary” out there relies on pure conjecture, with no attempt to do…you know…actual research to back it up. For all the people making wild predictions about the need for backup, very few seem to have realized that there are actual grid operators out there, with actual experience managing diverse generating sources. And some of them even have phones! Fact checking just isn’t fun, I guess.

    So thanks, Tyler, for cutting through the bullcrap. These articles are some of the most clear-headed pieces on wind issues that I’ve seen.

Comments are closed.