Environmental group calls for “far” offshore wind farms: admission of failure, WCO says

Toronto Harbour next?
Far out, man: but still no proper analysis being done

John Miner, London Free Press, September 11, 2014

Ontario will miss a huge opportunity to create jobs and protect the environment if it doesn’t embrace building wind farms in the Great Lakes, an environmental group is arguing.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is calling for construction of “far-offshore” wind farms that will be out of sight and out of hearing distance of the mainland.

The group, which represents 6,000 doctors and members of the public, estimates offshore wind farms would generate a minimum of $10 billion of investment from the private sector.

Gideon Forman, the group’s executive director, said the U.S. is looking seriously at offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes.

“It would be a shame to let that technology-driven leadership opportunity pass Ontarians by,” Forman said.

Ontario put a moratorium on offshore wind farms in the run up to the 2011 provincial election.

Last week, the province invited tenders for two studies on offshore wind farms — one on the impact of sound from the turbines and the other on decommissioning a wind farm in the lake.

But the Environment Ministry said there are no plans to go ahead with such wind farms until there is scientific evidence that projects can be developed in a way that protects both human health and the environment.

Forman maintains far-offshore wind farms would be a source of healthy, low-carbon energy and avoid the controversy surrounding wind farms on land that some consider an eyesore.

Wind farms on water would have another advantage over ones on land. The dynamics of wind over water makes power available throughout the day when electricity demand peaks, Forman said.

The Ontario citizens’ group that has led the fight against wind farms on land isn’t enthused about wind farms in the lakes either.

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said there are grave concerns about installing wind turbines in the Great Lakes, especially Huron and Superior, where weather is severe.

Turbines would be an added danger to navigation, she said.

“We repeat our call for cost-benefit analysis, options analysis, and impact analysis for wind power in general,” Wilson said.

Read the full story and comments here.

Editor’s note: Our full remarks sent to the London Free Press were as follows:

The push by CAPE for “far offshore turbines” is an admission that there are serious problems with the way Ontario has forced wind power generation facilities onshore in Ontario–and we’re not talking about “esthetic” concerns, but rather, real experiences with the noise and low-frequency noise these power generating machines produce, and harm to the natural environment such as that being caused to birds, bats and other forms of wildlife.

Again, in Ontario, the Energy Minister has said we are in a situation of power supply surplus to our needs; we question why we would engage in further expense for power generation, which would also have the effect of increasing Ontario ratepayer’s electricity bills even higher.

As to “far” offshore, we repeat our call for cost-benefit analysis, options analysis, and impact analysis for wind power in general. There are grave concerns about the installation of wind turbines in the Great Lakes, especially Huron and Superior where weather is very severe—turbines would be an added danger to navigation in these waters. And for Erie, which is so shallow, what would the effects be on the fish, and on the birds that fly over the lake during periods of migration?
This sort of analysis has never been done in Ontario. People deserve to have a proper business case study done, including an assessment of all impacts, before there is further investment in wind power, either on- or offshore.

Jane Wilson
President
Wind Concerns Ontario

Comments

wgulden
Reply

Out of sight of the mainland? Depending on just how tall the turbines are (let’s say 600 ft, after all, these will be big suckers) and how high the observer is (30 ft?) I calculate the line of sight to be somewhere in the 40 mile range. That immediately leaves out Lakes Erie and Ontario.

In Lake Huron, on the Canadian side, there is a small section available in the middle – in about 300 ft of water. Lake Superior has more space available – albeit in deeper water.

Apparently Gideon isn’t aware of the problems the Germans are having getting their first far offshore project, Bard 1, working. That project is further from the shore (65 mi vs 40+) but in shallower water (110 ft vs 300-600 ft).

Also, I don’t see Gideon volunteering to spend his own dollars on this. Or those of his group’s membership, whatever that is.

Is he really that far displaced from reality? Or did his funding masters, considering him a useful fool, put him up to it?

Tony
Reply

Gideon is nothing more than an “office boy” for this organisation – and you don’t have to be a doctor to become a member. If fact the only doctors I have asked who have heard of this organisation are EX members.

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