Without question each one of us wants to have clean air, clean water, and the adequate supply of electricity to enjoy our lives now and in the future. Researchers all over the world are working on a wide range of solutions to this challenge and many jurisdictions, like Ontario, have implemented green energy initiatives to help us move in that direction. But, does wind energy really have a place in the future of our energy supply mix?Our Liberal government certainly thinks so, that is clear. But, do we all understand the numbers so that we can make an intelligent rational decision?
In a July 10, 2012 article by Scott Stinson of the National Post he presents the following information:
“Data from Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator shows that wind energy, which still amounts to a tiny percentage of the province’s energy supply, is remarkably inefficient in terms of producing at capacity when it is needed.
Throughout the past week of considerable heat, the province’s nuclear reactors have typically generated energy at better than 98% of their capacity at all hours of the day. Other sources of energy, like coal, run close to 15% of capacity in the middle of the night, but are cranked up to 75% of capacity in the heat of day, when demand is highest. Wind, meanwhile, typically generates best in the wee hours of the morning, then drops off during the day. Last Friday, the province’s wind installations generated at 17% of capacity — that was the high point — between midnight and 1 a.m. By 11 a.m., right when the province’s time-of-use rates increase to reflect higher demand, wind was down to 4.5% of capacity. That’s not an outlier, either: wind production routinely dips during the day, when it could best be used. On Monday, wind sources were generating at 15% of capacity at midnight. They were down to 1.4% of capacity by 11 a.m. By 6 p.m., near the highest demand of the day, it was up to … 6% of capacity.”
Clearly wind energy is not being generated when we need it most so why are we pushing so hard to go in this direction. Certainly similar efforts in the development of Clean Coal technologies will give much better results, both environmentally and economically.
Due to this extremely low utilization factor all wind generated power must have 100% backup using conventional generation systems like gas-fired plants. Wind energy is a “feel good” initiative that does virtually nothing to meet our energy needs, all at a very high cost in both cash and land.
Ontario certainly should be investing in green energy initiatives, but wind should not be one of them.