Renewables not ready to meet demand for electricity

Letters to the Editor  Lethbridge Herald

July 3, 2014

I would like to respond to your recent guest column by Ben Thibault (June 18 Herald) extolling the virtues of renewables solar and wind while comparing Alberta and U.S. coal generation statistics. This is a phoney comparison since they
have 104 nuclear plants on their grid and we have none.  Until we solve the problems of large-scale storage of electricity, we cannot expect renewables to solve our emissions problems. Just because the “fuel=wind” is free does not mean wind farms are emissions free. Large amounts of carbon dioxide are generated in creating the concrete and rebar bases for wind towers, to say nothing of the steel required for the towers themselves. Depending on the size of the
installation, these towers have to be strong to handle the considerable wind forces on them. Then there is the copper for the generator and the cables, aluminum and steel for the transmission towers and lines. In the case of solar, the
“fuel=sunlight” is free but we still have problems with large-scale installations covering considerable amounts of land as well as with the chemicals used in the manufacture of the panels.  As technology currently stands in Alberta, wind power has a large installed capacity that is on the average operational about a third of the time and moonbeams don’t work for the solar. These renewables are intermittent. Other jurisdictions in the world are finding out that massive public support for renewables, although initially politically appealing, is in the long run financially costly for the public purse. Just look at Ontario for a made-in-Canada example.
We may choose to use solar, wind and batteries for our homes but that total demand is a minor part of the electricity use in the province.
Laurence G. Hoye
Diamond City