JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ENERGY MATTERS: THE ROLE OF COAL AND “RENEWABLES” – SOME OF THE SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH WINDMILLS   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY TIM WEIS IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Coal makes sense from every meaningful point of view.

It is plentiful and not too costly and coal-fired stations provide base-load (on-call 24 hours a day) power.

We have nothing else to compare. We do not have plentiful natural gas, as is foolishly asserted in this article, an assertion which makes one wonder whether the author even knows much about his subject. Natural gas is being used rapidly now and prices are rising.

With Dalton McGuinty’s insane energy policies, we are going to see a lot more demand on natural gas and rising energy prices.

Because the Great and Mighty Dalton has declared windmills a job creator, they are going to cover our landscape with their visual ugliness and noise pollution and migrating-bird killing.

They also are not ever going to to provide base load power. They cannot.

That’s why McGuinty is running around building gas-fired plants as back-ups for the clear and proven failure of windmills. That’s what they’ve had to do in Europe. And the new demand for gas will cause home-heating costs to rise, the electricity costs already rising steeply because of windmills.

Closing Ontario’s relatively efficient coal plants only means that with increases or spurts in demand Ontario is buying extra energy from the dirtiest coal plants in the Midwestern United States, thus increasing pollution, not decreasing it.

There are clean-burning coal technologies today, and more are on the way.

A province that doesn’t want to bankrupt its citizens with energy costs will use them.

By the way, when McGuinty is through with his windmill-jousting and boastfully-ignorant closing of coal plants, energy costs in Ontario are going to be uncompetitive for the acquisition of new industries or even the retention of expanding old ones.

How do you think a McGuinty will solve that? You guessed right if you said he would heavily subsidize new industry’s costs to attract them.

And how will he subsidize them? You guessed right if you said he’ll raise residential rates through the roof, even worse than the other, above-mentioned causes of rising rates will do.
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“For the people who don’t understand why we can’t rely on wind and solar energy to power the grid here is the answer. Solar energy doesn’t occur at night or on cloudy days. Wind energy doesn’t happen on calm days.”

Yes, indeed, but there are even more reasons.

For windmills we’ve now started accumulating data on their weaknesses and failures.

Windmills in at least one jurisdiction froze still during a bad cold spell.

Windmills in another location were blown over and destroyed in a high-wind storm.

And in a case on the west coast of the United States, there was a blade which flew off and landed a good distance away, a serious hazard.

The “white noise” of windmill farms has literally driven some people living near them crazy. There have been quiet, behind-the-scenes settlements given. We have no long term data on the effects here upon people. It may well be more threatening than the electromagnetic energy of cell phones or power lines.

And windmills are ugly. They must be built in huge masses, generally in places like near shorelines or on hills. They are simply visual blight.

But the bottom line is cost. Windmill energy is costly, and it is only happening in Ontario because of heavy subsidies to the providers, courtesy ultimately of customers.

People loosely use the term “renewables” to describe and encompass all these alternate forms of energy, and it leads to great misunderstanding, as though they were all benign and equally important, but they are not.

I strongly suspect that the long-term answer to energy is going to be decentralization: instead of big stations and power lines, we are going to have individual power plants in our homes. They may be solar – improved solar – or they may be things like power cells and new light storage batteries.

Another coming revolution will be power lines which are closer to perfect conductors, making instantly all of our power plants effectively double to triple their output since so much is lost today through transmission.

Meanwhile, the renewables-crowd mostly has no idea of what it is talking about.

Electricity, which in a knowledge-based society is a fundamental need, is going to be made horribly costly and inefficient through their efforts.

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