Wind power expensive, not needed: Ontario Cabinet Minister

[Photo: MyWestNipissing]

August 20, 2019

Many people will have missed this interview with MPP Vic Fedeli, as it was published in the West Nipissing community newspaper, but the comments from Mr. Fedeli on a recent report from the Fraser Institute are definitely worth a look.

Especially this week, as the wind power industry trade association and lobbyist CanWEA is in Ottawa, trying to persuade Ontario municipalities that wind power is a cost-effective way to generate electrical power that also brings jobs and prosperity to communities.

Not so, says former finance minister and nor Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade for Ontario. Wind and solar are among the most expensive ways to generate electricity, he told My West Nipissing News.

Wind power contracts were a waste of money because they produced power that Ontario didn’t need, and the surplus power is sold off, often at a loss, to competing jurisdictions in the U.S., Fedeli said. “We make about 30,000 megawatts of power a day but only need about 20,000,” Fedeli said. “So we end up paying the United States and Quebec every single night to take our surplus power.  And it’s billions of dollars every year that we’re paying those competitors of ours.”

Referring to a recent Auditor General’s report, Fedeli says the AG identified that the solar and wind projects of the previous government resulted in “spending $37-billion in wasted money”. He added that former Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne pursued the wind and solar projects solely for ideological reasons and photo ops.

“The Auditor-General has proven it certainly wasn’t anything in terms of bringing relief for families,” Fedeli said.

The Fraser Institute report  noted that solar and wind are intended to displace emission-producing forms of power generation, but also that many provinces in Canada get much of their power from nuclear plants or hydroelectric dams, neither of which energy sources produce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fedeli said Ontario gets 60 percent of its power from nuclear and additional power from its huge hydroelectric projects like Niagara Falls.

“We have clean energy from water and nuclear,” he said.

What Mr. Fedeli didn’t mention in referring to the Auditor General reports over the last 15 years was that the former McGuinty and Wynne governments never did any kind of cost-benefit or impact analysis for their wind power program which was essentially forced industrialization for rural communities. Impacts such as environmental noise leading to health problems and property value loss were never examined. The report from the Fraser Institute alleges the wind power lobby purposely ignores the consequences of wind power development, and the operation of wind power facilities.

 

 

Infrasound/low-frequency noise specialist to speak at U Waterloo

August 7, 2019

A renowned researcher specializing in noise emissions and their effect on the human body, will be speaking at the University of Waterloo on September 12.

All are invited and there is no charge for the event.

DETAILS:

Speaker: Mariana Alves-Pereira
Title: Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise: Physics, Cells, Health and History
Date: Thursday September 12, 2019
Time: 1 pm
Location: University of Waterloo, Room: DC 1302 (Davis Centre)

Speaker Bio:
Mariana Alves-Pereira holds a B.Sc. in Physics (State University of New York at Stony Brook), a M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering (Drexel University) and a Ph.D. in
Environmental Sciences (New University of Lisbon). She joined the multidisciplinary research team investigating the biological response to
infrasound and low frequency noise in 1988, and has been the team’s Assistant Coordinator since 1999. Recipient of three scientific awards, and author and coauthor of over 50 scientific publications (including peer-reviewed and conference presentations), Dr. Alves-Pereira is currently Associate Professor at Lusófona University teaching Biophysics and Biomaterials in health science programs (nursing and radiology), as well as Physics and Hygiene in workplace safety & health programs.

Her most recently published paper concerns low-frequency noise and infrasound, and how outdated regulations are failing to protect health.

Host: Associate professor Richard Mann, http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mannr

Wind power in Ontario: policy backfired badly, says Fraser Institute report

Generating Electricity in Canada from Wind and Sunlight: Is Getting Less for More Better than Getting More for Less?

New from the Fraser Institute is a report on renewable energy and the consequences of political encouragement of variable power sources.

The abstract is below but be sure to read the full report. A paragraph of page 6 is particularly damning of Ontario’s energy policy:

” … proponents of wind and solar power intentionally misrepresent the advantages of these technologies by focussing attention solely on the costs and benefits obtained whenever electricity is being generated. The costs of wind and solar power are considerably higher and the environmental benefits much lower when account is taken of the impact these technologies have on an entire electricity system. Ultimately, consumers do not pay for electricity generated using wind and sunlight but for electricity that is delivered to them continuously by the electricity system as a whole. Therefore, when VRE is introduced into an electricity system, ratepayers are interested in its system-wide impact, not just the cost of the wind and solar power entering the grid. The additional conventional generating capacity required to provide back-up electricity supply when VRE capacity is not generating electricity because of a lack of wind or sunshine is a significant incremental cost to the system.”

 

Generating Electricity in Canada from Wind and Sunlight: Is Getting Less for More Better than Getting More for Less?

Using wind and sunlight to generate electricity is controversial. Advocates urge increased reliance on these variable renewable energy (VRE) sources because they are seen as a low-cost way of mitigating a looming climate-change crisis. Critics take the opposite stance, claiming wind and solar power are costly, and the environmental benefits negligible at best. Some Canadian provinces have gone to considerable lengths to encourage adoption of these technologies, but the results have been mixed.

This study shows that both positions contain elements of truth. Electricity generated using wind and sunshine is relatively inexpensive. However, once the capacity is in place, it is only available at certain times of the day and/or when the weather cooperates. But consumers require a reliable electricity supply and integrating VRE into existing electricity systems while maintaining a continuous and reliable supply is complicated and costly, both financially and environmentally. Electricity consumers and taxpayers are interested primarily in the financial burden that results from efforts to increase electricity generating capacity using VRE sources. This includes the costs wind and solar power impose on the electricity system as a whole, not just the cost of the VRE-generated electricity supplied to the grid.

The incremental financial costs to the system fall into three basic categories: first, augmenting existing conventional generating capacity so that it is able to compensate for the unreliable supply of wind and solar power. Second, ensuring that the necessary investment in conventional generating capacity is forthcoming although the VRE in the system makes it impossible to use this capacity efficiently. This requirement is usually satisfied either with a capacity market or contracts with suppliers of conventional generating capacity. Third, adding transmission grid capacity and the configuration of grid services required to integrate VRE into the electricity system. Each category has repercussions for the environment. Cheap electricity from wind turbines and solar panels paradoxically results in larger bills for electricity users and taxpayers. Higher utility rates for businesses and households and higher taxes and cutbacks to public services dampen economic activity and reduce living standards.

Compared to conventional power sources, small and variable amounts of electricity are generated when wind and solar energy are captured and transformed by a dispersed array of VRE installations. Large areas of land, often in remote locations, are required. This inevitably results in significant additional costs in terms of delivery infrastructure (for example, high-voltage power lines) and back-up power generation (for example, natural-gas-powered turbines) that would not otherwise be incurred. The first part of this study examines how electricity systems work in order to evaluate the contradictory claims made about VRE. Whether or not wind and solar power are clean and cheap depends on how the evaluation is framed. Critics point out that the economic and environmental costs of the electricity generated using wind and solar technologies can be quite different from the impact of this source of electricity on a system-wide basis.

The second part of the study shows how the system-wide costs and benefits of adding wind and solar power to an existing electricity system are affected by the policies of provincial governments, the cost of electricity, the conventional generating assets already in place, and the structure of the electricity system. Comparing experiences with VRE in different provinces illustrates the importance of these factors.

Cross-Canada comparisons show that electricity utilities themselves are usually best placed to determine whether or not the system-wide cost of these technologies is justified. Prior to 2015, Alberta demonstrated how a competitive wholesale market for electricity determined the extent to which wind and solar energy is economically feasible. Neither is the involvement of provincial governments necessarily a bad thing. Prince Edward Island has successfully integrated a substantial amount of wind power into its electricity system under unique circumstances: a provincial Crown corporation operates several wind farms but the rest of the electricity system is privately or municipally owned. Problems arise when dramatic increases in wind and solar power receive political sanction and the economic consequences are underestimated or ignored. A bold initiative to increase wind and solar generating capacity in the Ontario electricity system backfired badly, leading to soaring electricity rates for both consumers and manufacturers. Between 2015 and 2019, the Alberta government worked towards installing even more wind and solar capacity than had proved politically and economically unsustainable in Ontario, but the electorate allowed that government only a single term in office.

A policy should be judged by whether or not the chosen means have delivered the promised ends. Our review of Canadian wind and solar energy policy shows that they led to consequences consistent with those in other jurisdictions: ramping up electricity production using these power sources results in increased costs for taxpayers and consumers when account is taken of the impact these technologies have on the electricity system as a whole and, when done on any significant scale, generally negative and unnecessary environmental consequences.