Wind energy isn’t the answer

By Letter to the Editor on November 17, 2013.

While I appreciate Dr. Byrne’s comprehensive response to my letter of Oct. 7, in which I questioned and bemoaned the billions being spent on futile and perhaps, unnecessary attempts to control climate, there is nothing much to be gained from a discussion which revolves around “my sources are more reputable than yours.”

I consider myself to be an environmentalist. The outstanding natural beauty of southern Alberta is a precious resource. I am appalled at what is happening to our land and vistas in the pursuit of “clean” energy, with its attendant turbines, power lines and gravel maintenance roads. The technology is remarkable but cannot deliver the reliable, affordable power required by a modern industrial society. To advocate for “more of the same” is technical, financial, economic and environmental folly.

On Thanksgiving Day, Oct. 14, 11:03 a.m., the “Current Supply Demand Report” provided by the Alberta Electric Systems Operator ( revealed that wind production at that hour was three megawatts (3 MW) out of a theoretical capacity of 1,088 MW. Only three wind farms of the 15 in the province were producing anything for the grid.

At the same time coal was producing 5,037 MW; gas, 2,971 MW; hydro, 197 MW; other, 287 MW; for a total production of 8,495 MW required to keep the province running at that hour. That situation had existed for the previous 48 hours.

I decided to ballpark the cost of 15 windfarms using the numbers given for the Suncor, Chin Chute site which has 20 turbines, 1.5 MW each for a total theoretical output of 30 MW. Built at an initial cost of $60 million $2 million per MW. (

“WindVision 2025″ affirms that “In April 2013, 752 turbines with a generating capacity of 1,117 MW” were in production. Using the $2 million per MW average construction cost, the total amount invested in windmills (1,117 MW x $2 million) equals $2.234 billion.

My conclusion – on Oct. 14 at 11.03 a.m., an investment of $2.234 billion in wind power was contributing 3 MW to the grid or 0.035 per cent of Alberta’s requirement. If one includes another $2.8 billion of public money for the construction of power lines to collect this erratic output, plus the cost of creating reserve generation which must kick in when there is no wind, one gets a better idea of the real cost.

Whether or not one believes in man-made climate change caused by CO2 emissions, this technology is not the answer. We have better technology. We must use it.

Shaun Ward