Intermitant wind-produced energy no answer for Ontario’s grid

Jennifer Ackerman has made an impassioned plea for Prince Edward County Council to reverse its decision to dismantle the White Pines wind turbines.  (Letters-Turbine site destruction will lead to further fossil fuel pollution, The Picton Gazette Oct. 10).

Even though Jen makes good points about the need for action on climate change, she is wrong about the role that wind turbines can play.

Industrial wind turbines produce electricity intermittently.  They require backup by fossil fuel generators which produce more CO2 than is saved by the turbines.  They are therefore inherently unsuitable until their intermittent power can be stored.  Today, Ontario has no ability to store intermittent power on the scale needed. In the meantime, as Council has recognized, wind turbines are costly eyesores that make no sense, especially for the bucolic County.

Furthermore, wind turbines are proven to be hazardous to people who live nearby, dangerous for wildlife, and they reduce property values. Some day, prudently-located wind turbines may make sense for Ontario, but not until we have a massive energy storage bank on our grid.

Perhaps electric vehicles (EVs) will some day provide that storage. Indeed, Elizabeth May has proposed that by 2030, all new Canadian cars should be electric.  Already today, more than half of all new Norwegian cars are electric.

A few of our Canadian neighbours have EVs that are providing very quiet, very peppy, and very efficient transportation.  They produce virtually no greenhouse gasses.  But for now, EVs have a range problem. Most automobiles sit idle 95 per cent of the time in the USA (92 per cent in Europe).

In future, millions of idle Canadian EVs could be plugged in for recharging at home or at work, using adaptor devices that allow both energy storage and energy sharing with others, on the grid.   Imagine, a massive networked EV battery bank that could be kept up to charge using variable wind power and also using excess power from hydroelectric and nuclear generators!

Let’s not waste our money today on wind power that we cannot use.

Let’s spend our money wisely on converting our huge automotive and electricity industries to meet the emerging demand for EVs, which could store variable energy that could be sourced from safely-located wind and solar farms in our future.

Jim McPherson