Monday, March 15, 2010

More Windmills Won't Solve This Problem

I've been thinking increasingly about the problem of intermittent power from wind mills. Partly because I've been visiting the Spanish electricity website where they indicate a relatively more stable supply of electricity from wind power.

Which made me wonder if having more wind power somehow causes the output on average to be more stable. It probably would if you had multiple independent sources of wind which were not dependent on one another or were inversely dependent on one another. Which also led me to consider if Ontario's wind power was generated primarily from one part of the province, which would lend credence to the theory that Ontario need only build wind mills in more diverse parts of the province in order to generate a (more) consistent source of electricity relying solely on the wind.

Fortunately, the IESO website helpfully identifies the locations of all major wind farms in Ontario.

Out of 1085 MW of total capacity, 189 MW are located near Sault Ste. Marie, 198 MW are located in Wolfe Island (near Kingston), 200 MW are located on the shores of Lake Erie, 298 MW are located on the shores of Lake Huron, and another 199 MW are located north of Orangeville in the middle of Southern Ontario. So clearly, if the wind cannot provide more than 2 MW at one point in time with such a large number of turbines spread across Ontario, the problem isn't having too few windmills clustered together.

Building more windmills in Ontario will not solve this problem then.


Skuleman said...

The reason Spain does so well is a large part of their wind resources are in the southwest corner, in an area blessed with 24x365 winds in the 20 knot range. This is also why the same coastal area is a wind-surfing mecca.

Martin said...

The proposed wind turbines for my neighbourhood are 600 feet high because wind power is too slight below that level. This development is on prime agricultural land next to a rural village. Consider the concrete and steel necessary to construct the towers, higher than a 40 story building. How could such a development ever make economic sense? of course it doesn't, the company is only interested in the government subsidy. Under the Green Energy Bill, local residents have no means of preventing this absurd development.

Eric said...


Thanks for pointing that out! I thought it might have something to do with that.


Government subsidies aren't inherently bad in my opinion so long as they achieve some benefit for the people proportional to the investment. I just don't think wind power provides any benefit beyond the smug feeling some people have.

It always annoys me when I think about prime agricultural land being polluted with concrete and cement.

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