Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canadian Consulting Engineer   

Wind energy has a bad week

Energy Green, Alternative Energy

Wind energy came under attack last week in a report published by the Fraser Institute. The report, "Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario's Green Energy Act," finds that Ontario's efforts to encourage renewable energy sources will...

Wind energy came under attack last week in a report published by the Fraser Institute. The report, “Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act,” finds that Ontario’s efforts to encourage renewable energy sources will raise electricity costs in the province to be among the highest in North America.

Written by Ross McKitrick of the Fraser Institute and released April 11, the report uses the oft-cited arguments that wind is intermittent and inherently inefficient. But it also argues that pollution control methods would have resulted in the same environmental benefits for Ontario as the Green Energy Act, and at a tenth of the cost. For this position it cites the province’s own confidential 2005 cost benefit analysis on reducing the air pollution from power plants.

The Fraser Institute report says manufacturing and mining will particularly feel the impacts of Ontario’s higher energy rates and that any efforts to subsidize these costs for large industrial users will only push the cost onto private consumers.

It also says that if more wind and solar energy capacity is created then there’s an ironic possibility that the province may actually produce more emissions since the excess capacity might result in a nuclear power plant being taken off line.


Meanwhile, an article in the Globe and Mail by Richard Blackwell a few days earlier on April 8 said that Canada’s wind generation industry is becoming controlled more and more by large, often foreign-owned corporations. It says that “the takeover of the business by large companies is one reason behind the backlash against the rapid installation of huge, looming turbines, particularly if they are near recreational property or agricultural communities.”

The newspaper’s analysis showed that 90% of the current 6,500 MW of wind capacity is owned by large companies, of which 25% is held by foreign interests. Canadian companies that have large wind holdings include TransAlta, Enbridge, TransCanada, Suncor and Brookfield Renewable Energy.

The article said that Enbridge and a subsidiary of Electricité de France announced recently that they have paid $600-million for a 300 MW wind farm to be developed north of Lethbridge, Alberta.

To download the free Fraser Institute report, click here.

To read the Globe and Mail article, click here.


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