Wind power not an effective alternative

Lethbridge Herald

By Letter to the Editor on July 16, 2015.

Re: All-time summer peak record set for electricity in Alberta during heat wave July 9.

The record demand for electricity last week is a stark reminder of the hopeless inadequacy of wind power. For several hours that day, Alberta’s $5-billion wind infrastructure produced zero electricity.

Thus far in 2015, wind’s average output has been 33 per cent of nameplate capacity and for the past few weeks, wind’s dismal output ranged from 13 to 20 per cent of capacity. In that period, production from Alberta’s wind turbines has been less than five per cent of capacity, or effectively zero, several times each week.

Last week across Alberta, air conditioners were running apace keeping people comfortable at their places of work and at home. But peak power demands are even higher in winter when people and industry must be kept from freezing. Major outages in winter, because of wind’s failures, have the potential to be dangerous. Yet the government wants more ineffective wind power.

The current government’s election platform stated, “We will phase out coal-fired electricity generation … and expand … windÉ” Before taking such action, Premier Notley and the Hon. Shannon Phillips must present a plan to replace coal power in a way that will prevent permanent harm to our modern society when we run short of wind electricity because of its unreliability.

Recently in The Herald online, this illogical statement was posted, “…wind is always blowing somewhereÉ” It is like saying the sun is always shining somewhere. It is misleading because it implies wind electricity will be available from elsewhere, when it will not. In addition to the unthinkable monetary and resource costs of an extensive transmission grid dedicated to wind, this illogical thinking has a fatal flaw. If the wind is not blowing in Alberta or elsewhere over vast tracts of North America, but is blowing in (say) Iowa, there will be many times when none of that wind power will be available for Alberta because the limited supply will have been consumed elsewhere.

Consider the absurdity of replacing Alberta’s 6.3 GW of coal power with wind. The initial cost for new turbines and transmission will be over $20 billion (billion)! And since this must be 100 per cent backed up with (what?) natural gas, add another $6 billion or so. So much for the Green mantra of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. More like Duplicate, Mothball and Abandon.

If you don’t like your high electricity bills now, just wait a few years.

Clive Schaupmeyer