Ontario will miss a huge opportunity to create jobs and protect the environment if it doesn’t embrace building wind farms in the Great Lakes, an environmental group is arguing.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is calling for construction of “far-offshore” wind farms that will be out of sight and out of hearing distance of the mainland.
The group, which represents 6,000 doctors and members of the public, estimates offshore wind farms would generate a minimum of $10 billion of investment from the private sector.
Gideon Forman, the group’s executive director, said the U.S. is looking seriously at offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes.
“It would be a shame to let that technology-driven leadership opportunity pass Ontarians by,” Forman said.
Ontario put a moratorium on offshore wind farms in the run up to the 2011 provincial election.
Last week, the province invited tenders for two studies on offshore wind farms – one on the impact of sound from the turbines and the other on decommissioning a wind farm in the lake.
But the Environment Ministry said there are no plans to go ahead with such wind farms until there is scientific evidence that projects can be developed in a way that protects both human health and the environment.
Forman maintains far-offshore wind farms would be a source of healthy, low-carbon energy and avoid the controversy surrounding wind farms on land that some consider an eyesore.
Wind farms on water would have another advantage over ones on land. The dynamics of wind over water makes power available throughout the day when electricity demand peaks, Forman said.
The Ontario citizens’ group that has led the fight against wind farms on land isn’t enthused about wind farms in the lakes either.
Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said there are grave concerns about installing wind turbines in the Great Lakes, especially Huron and Superior, where weather is severe.
Turbines would be an added danger to navigation, she said.
“We repeat our call for cost-benefit analysis, options analysis, and impact analysis for wind power in general,” Wilson said.