Ontario Liberals started the clean energy revolution by replacing coal-fired energy with solar and wind powers. But as Bob Mok reveals, there are dirty truths about the “clean energy”. Wind turbines have massive carbon footprint and emit thousands tons of CO2 during there production cycle. To read his early articles on this series, please refer to: http://096.ca/news/653381
It is necessary to have gas generating stations to back up wind power because windmills are unable to deliver enough energy on calm days. These gas generating stations run constantly in the backgound to balance the electricity grid and prevent blackout when wind power output collapses on a routine but unpredictable basis.
The Provincial Liberals claimed that they will replace coal-fired electricity with wind and solar power. Instead, it was done with nuclear power plants and natural gas generating plants. That led to the gas plants scandal two elections ago when they planned to build more gas plants in part to back up intermittent wind and solar power but cancelled them in Oakville and Mississauga to avert voting loses and to save riding seats.
According to Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk, over 90% of Windmill contracts are given to major political funding contributors to the Provincial Liberal Party. Windmills contracts are also made into 20 year deals like solar panel contracts and almost just as lucrative for their owners.
Before a windmill generates its first watt of power, it clocks up thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions “embedded” in thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete during their manufacturing cycle. An average windmill consumes 45 tons of reinforcement steel bars and 481 cubic metres of concrete producing a carbon footprint of 241.85 tons of carbon dioxide. This figure will exceed the carbon emissions for the same amount of power generated by a coal-firing plant over the same life span of 20 years. We have not even included the carbon footprint for the manufacture of the thousands of pylons and tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission wire needed to get the power to the grid.
Every wind turbine also has a magnet made of 2500 Kg of a metal called neodymium. The mining and refining of neodymium is so dirty and toxic – involving repeated boiling in acid, and with radioactive thorium as a waste product – that only one country does it – China.
A windmill in Ontario receives 13.5 cents a kilowatt hour (earlier figures) from Ontario Hydro . With a capacity of 2Mw and an efficiency of 27%, it will produce 4730 Mw in a year and generating $638,604 for its owners. The windmill will cost roughly $4-5 million to complete, including $760,000 to lease the land where it is located.
Not counted in these costs is the price of having backup plants standing by to fill in the gaps when wind speeds oscillate or die. Increasing numbers of wind turbines require more quick-starting, gas-fired generating stations, which are paid to be on standby even if they’re not operating.
What will happen when a windmill project ends? The lease will provide for the removal of the wind farm structures and roads as well as the restoration of the soils. A frequent fear of landowners is that the developer will default or dissolve, and the landowner will be left with huge, inoperable machines littering the property. Some agreements require a performance bond from the developer to ensure that money is available to pay for decommissioning.
Land reclamation is one of the most difficult parts of a wind-power lease negotiation. Windmills require specialized cranes to dismantle. And the massive foundations with over 40 yards of concrete are expensive to remove.
After looking at the two major components in Ontario's Green Energy Act, we can come to the conclusion that carbon emissions are not decreased when it comes to the use of Windmills, while the Solar panel systems will achieve a savings in the carbon footprint when compared to coal-firing generating stations. In both cases, the decommissioning of projects at the end of the 20 year life span will create disposal issues that can have environmental impacts.
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