We are climbing on the wind power bandwagon just as other countries are jumping off.
As suggested by recent announcements by Premier Brad Wall and SaskPower, we are likely to see more wind farm projects in Saskatchewan in the near future.
There are many reasons why wind power has fallen into disrepute. It is not the most reliable source of electricity. Turbines are only 30 per cent efficient at best and they must be taken offline in adverse weather conditions, which cause malfunctions. At one wind farm in Britain, diesel-powered generators are on standby to cut in when the turbines are shut down.
Wind power is also extremely expensive. Governments have poured millions of dollars into the construction of wind farms, in the form of subsidies and other incentives, resulting in high power bills for consumers – as Ontario residents know well.
Turbine blades are very efficient killers of bats and birds. One British environmentalist claims that 200,000 bats are killed every year in Germany; tens of thousands of eagles in America. As Saskatchewan is on a major flight path of migrating birds, we should consider the consequences to species such as whooping cranes and many others.
The main reason, however, is that this form of “green energy” is far from green.
The manufacture and construction of wind farms contributes more to global CO2 emissions than they will save in their useful life (which is approximately between 15 and 20 years).
The construction of one typical turbine involves the use of heavy equipment to create roads to the site; dig a hole 10 feet deep and 100 feet wide. Into this are deposited 53 truckloads of concrete and 96,000 lbs of steel rebar.
Then eight truckloads of components arrive: a base tower weighing 87,450 lbs; a mid-section of 115,500 lbs; a top tower of 104,167 lbs, and then the rotor assembly and blades. The transportation and erection of these components require the use of heavy machinery and large cranes. These facts are taken from a video produced by a wind energy company. The total CO2 emissions to build one turbine is estimated at 241.85 tons.
The supreme irony is that in Baoding, China’s most polluted city, the major industry is the production of turbine towers and blades. The power for this industry is supplied by several large coal-fired plants. By attempting to cut Canadian emissions (currently 1.6 per cent of global totals), we are adding to China’s emissions, at 24.1 per cent and growing.
A Leader-Post article (Nov. 21) promotes the advantages of wind power, as perceived by its supporters. One refers to all the “space” in Saskatchewan where turbines could be built. I live in rural Saskatchewan, and can look at this space through every window of my home. Rather than seeing a place for wind farms. I see land that produces essential food ingredients, such as wheat, barley, lentils and canola, and pastures where cattle graze.
Many of my rural neighbours are opposed to the destruction of our agricultural land and the desecration of our landscape by hosts of monstrous engines striding across the countryside like white giants with arms flailing wildly.
There are many other problems for those living near wind turbines. There are the emotional and physical effects of listening to the constant hum, 24/7. There is also the depreciation of property values. Nobody will buy a home or farm close to turbines. There are well-documented cases of rural Ontario residents who have walked away from their property because they can no longer live with the effects of the wind farms on their health – but cannot sell their homes.
Landowners who signed leases to allow turbines on their property eventually will discover that when the useful life of the wind farm is over, nobody is responsible for dismantling the turbines and hauling them away. Instead, these towers will remain as eroding monuments to the misguided energy policies that put them there in the first place.
Christine Whitaker is a freelance writer from Edgeley.
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