Archive for the ‘BASE-LOAD ENERGY’ Tag

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.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WIND TURBINES FOR “GREEN” ELECTRICITY – CLAIM MADE AESTHETICS ARE THE PROBLEM – BUT AESTHETICS ARE ONLY THE SMALLEST PART OF THE PROBLEM   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY NEIL REYNOLDS IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Aesthetics are not unimportant, especially when you propose dotting the landscape with homely objects.

But I disagree with you, almost completely that only aesthetics count here.

The problem is not just aesthetic.

Windmills have serious economic problems.

They do not provide base-load (always available) electricity.

Indeed, they can sit still, generating nothing, for days at a time.

We have seen recently in other jurisdictions that very high winds can destroy windmills and that extreme winter can disable them.

At best windmills can supplement the energy mix, and a rather small supplement at that.

Already in Germany and in Britain, they have had real disappointments with the energy-generating capabilities of windmills.

Windmills also are a hazard to migrating birds, especially when huge farms are built.

And they do generate a kind of “white noise” that drives some people living near them almost crazy. This potential health problem has not been adequately examined.

McGuinty has stupidly over-invested in these inefficient monstrosities because of all the people who think anything involving wind or water is automatically “green.”

It is the same crowd who thinks the narrow and crowded streets of Toronto should all have bicycle paths, something that will only be possible when we limit the traffic going into the city, either through tolls or fees.

Gas plants are economically hazardous in any quantity because our gas supplies are dwindling, and prices will sharply rise.

No one likes nuclear right now, of course.

Clean coal generation is one of our best bets for the near-term, but I know there’s no convincing the “bicycle path” crowd.

Few in the general public also seem to understand how foolish McGuinty’s closing of Ontario’s coal-fired plants is. Ours are among the cleaner plants, and they could be made even cleaner with not a huge investment.

Meanwhile the relatively dirty coal plants in the American Midwest – scores of them – not only continue to send their pollution to Toronto, but as McGuinty closes our plants, when he needs additional electricity – as for peak air-conditioning – he will be buying, at premium prices, from those same American stations, and he will be causing them to generate even greater pollution.

You really want to be green? Stop sending fleets of garbage trucks daily down 401 Highway taking Toronto’s NIMBY trash to Michigan. And put a limit on the cars choking the city. And put a stop to hideous inefficient urban sprawl.

But politicians like McGuinty will do none of things.

No, he will continue playing a game of peanut-and-shells with our energy supply and patting himself on the back before the “bicycle path” crowd.