Wind power in Ontario: thinning the mixture in the great economic engine

Wind-powered electricity is so inefficient that nobody gets into the wind generation business unless they are paid to do so. The situation in Ontario is proof of this. Wind turbines have sprung up all over the province because of government rules that force provincial electricity rate-payers, including low income people who live in apartment buildings, to pay wind “entrepreneurs” at least twice the rate that nuclear utilities get. The reason for this is wind’s inadequacy as an energy source. A 200-megawatt wind farm rarely generates 200 megawatts of electricity, and almost never does so for more than a few hours at a time. The wind just does not blow in a way that makes electricity generation convenient. Nor does it blow in a way that makes marine cargo shipping convenient—this is why nobody has shipped cargo in a sail-powered ship since the late-1800s.

Looks beautiful, but it’s not hauling cargo. Sail power for marine transportation ended in the mid- to late-1800s with the advent of the steam engine. Steam engines made marine transportation reliable. Today, nobody uses “free” wind power to move cargo or passengers. That is because crew salaries must be paid every two weeks.

The Ontario program that forces rate-payers to pay exorbitant prices for inefficient and unreliable wind power would never be expanded to include, say, sail powered shipping on the Great Lakes. That is because the inferiority of sail-powered shipping is immediately obvious to anyone who spends a few seconds pondering the business model. Anyone can easily imagine how quickly they would go out of business if they charged their customers more when they were late delivering a shipment.

Just imagine it: you are late with a shipment, and you still have to pay your crew, so the only way you can keep from going bankrupt is to charge your customer more than the agreed delivery charge! Your customer would be shocked, to put it mildly.

A shipping customer who has just been informed that he will have to pay more for a late shipment. Operators of sail-powered shipping companies would quickly become familiar with this look, because they would frequently be late with their shipments, and could only stay in business if they charged more when they were late. Wind-powered electricity generation operates on exactly the same business model, but customers don’t notice because of the way electricity is delivered.

Meanwhile, your competitors, who run petroleum-powered ships, make their deliveries on time and charge less.

Wind-generated electricity suffers from the exact same issue. Wind is unpredictable and unreliable, so to make a living as a wind entrepreneur, you have to charge more for an inferior product. Nobody in their right mind would pay more for something they can get elsewhere for cheaper. But the electricity market is different. Few people understand where the electricity that powers their house comes from. It all comes from wires, that come from somewhere else.

This is why there are now so many wind turbines in rural areas in Ontario. It is not because the locals recently discovered wind as an energy source. It is because the government has made the business profitable by making ratepayers pay the ridiculous prices that the wind entrepreneurs require in order to make a profit.

The Independent Electricity System Operator, which runs the Ontario electricity grid, recently pointed up the economic consequences of paying exorbitant prices for inferior electricity.

These consequences are serious. Modern cities run on electricity. They are quite literally uninhabitable without electricity. This means electricity must be cheap, and reliable. Wind is neither.

9 comments for “Wind power in Ontario: thinning the mixture in the great economic engine

  1. Steve Foster
    February 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

    If we continue down this road, we are staring at a dead end with huge economic consequences. Why on earth must this be the case when nuclear power is clearly superior in so many ways? The only reason I can fathom is political correctness, group-think, ignorance, and quite possibly deliberate misinformation from “think tanks” that use the gloss of academic credibility to sell an agenda on behalf of powerful clients who want to steer public opinion from the shadows.

    There is an extremely powerful lobby called fossil-fuels industry, worth trillions, that stands to lose big if nuclear power takes hold in a big way. They help fund some of the biggest “thinkers” who proselytize on behalf of “renewables” that are worthless on the grid without fossil fuels.

    Take, for example, Amory Lovins – a major force in anti-nuclear thinking. He works for the following subset of multinationals. From his own bio. ( http://www.rmi.org/Amory+B.+Lovins ):

    - BP
    - Chevron
    - ConocoPhillips
    - Petrobras
    - Royal Dutch/Shell
    - Sun Oil
    - Suncor

    Correct me if I’m wrong Steve, but I think his “soft energy path” of conservation and renewables is the model for the Ontario Governments’ ludicrous wind-generation scheme? This path is backed by gas, of course, locking in future gas demand as wind doesn’t work 75-80% of the time. I’m sure the likes of BP, Chevron, Suncor, et. al. love his work as it is succeeding. This path is in fact locking-in huge gas demand from this province at the expense of its people *AND THE ENVIRONMENT*.

    The mother of all greenwashing scams, IMHO.

    • February 27, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Steve, I won’t correct you because you’re not wrong. Lovins and his two-bit ideas have had an influence on this province since the Days of Rae if not before.

      I get flushed with embarrassment when I think of how this con man and his acolytes have played us so easily. Are we a bunch of hicks or what. Here’s hoping a Willie Stark comes along and shows us how to think our way out of a wet paper bag.

      • Steve Foster
        February 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm

        Could Al Gore be put in a similar category as Mr. Lovins? I don’t know if Al Gore gets money from Big Oil or not. His silence on the potential role of new nuclear power in solving the Climate Crisis is deafening. When he does mention it, its almost in a certain passive-aggressive tone.

        He is one of the biggest educators on climate change, and the urgency of doing something about it, who deftly avoids discussion of the single biggest source of reliable, carbon-free power. Whenever I hear Mr. Gore on the subject, carefully avoiding the elephant in the room, I just wonder what is his problem? Why? He’s a smart guy and the facts concerning nuclear power are plain to see with respect to carbon emissions, safety and economics. I want to like Al Gore and his efforts, but this just doesn’t make any sense.

        • February 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

          Sadly, Gore is in exactly the same category as Lovins. He said “nuclear plants only come in one size, extra large” as if that’s a good reason to not use them. Isn’t the carbon problem extra large?

          Gore gets, or at least got, money from Big Oil — he sold his TV station to another Al (Jazeera) which is state-owned by Qatar.

      • Steve Foster
        February 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        Thanks, I really appreciate those links to your previous posts. Very illuminating history!

    • C. Bayne
      March 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      It seems to me that the problem is more likely Big Energy or even Big Money. Many of the proponents of the “green” energy scam are into conventional generation, both fossil fuel and nuclear. I suspect that they are interested in stirring the pot with scare tactics of one sort or another. They can re-brand for whatever opportunity the current crisis or fad presents.

      “Green Energy” is a marketing slogan and could have been exposed as such by the media had they not regurgitated the wind industry claims to power X-number of homes without adding the phrase, when the wind blows. Had they even looked at the performance data of the early wind and solar, and dubbed them the “unreliables” we would not be in this mess.

      You are correct that this green scam is taking a toll on the environment.
      http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-renewable-energy-policy-takes-toll-on-nature-conservation-a-888094.html
      “In an ironic twist, members of the environmentalist Green Party have suddenly mutated into advocates of an unprecedented industrialization of large areas of land, while Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats have been advocating for more measures to protect nature.
      Merkel’s energy policies have driven a deep wedge into the environmental movement. While it celebrates the success of renewable energies as one of its greatest victories, it is profoundly unsettled by the effects of the energy transition, which can be seen everywhere across the country.”

      Ontario is about to line the eastern shore of Lake Superior with Industrial Wind Turbine development, blighting what is acknowledged as one of the top scenic coastal routes in North America. This is the act of vandals in our living art gallery, the landscapes which inspired the Group of Seven and by which we are known throughout the world.

      The Trans Canada Highway makes the area our nation’s front yard and the minimally impacted watershed protects the cleanest of the Great Lakes, our global freshwater treasure yet national media ignores the peril.

  2. robert budd
    March 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I think the reason the Liberal’s have stuck so dogedly to an obviously failed and contentious energy policy re.wind is that they are themselves heavily invested in it financially. Many Liberal’s and friends are making money off this and many contracts and the necesary lobbying required to get them is still on going.
    As well, as a local municipal councilor who sat in on early GEA meetings told me…”they made commitments to some very big corporations which will get fulfilled”, among them Samsung and a bunch of fossil industry players.
    And on top of it all there is the goofy alliance of so called clean energy groups like OSEA,CAPE,OCAA,Sierra Club that have been funded and cajoled into providing unified and totally unqualified support for the GEA. Most of them want to use it as an anti-nuke program.
    Sad times for this province,rural in particular.

  3. March 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    If anyone wants to see all the Green Fraud “players” in one location at one time you should go to the FIT Forum (Feed’In Trough) on April 3rd and 4th in Toronto.
    These less than honourable investors and politicians in the Green Fraud called Wind Turbines are having a “love in” looking to guarantee their access to Ontario’s consumers $$$$ for many decades to come.
    Sad days for what used to be called “The engine that drove Canada”…….(bankrupt Ontario)!!!

  4. Eusebio Bergouignan
    April 16, 2013 at 7:35 am

    This widespread occurance of wind is what makes wind power such a promising technology. Those familiar with facts about wind energy know that over 50% of the United States can be used for effective wind generated power. The great thing about wind power is that it is renewable. We will never run out of wind! ..

    The latest write-up from our web portal
    http://www.caramoan.ph/caramoan-photo-gallery/

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