The table below is a snapshot of yesterday’s Ontario wind turbine electricity production. Notice what happens to wind production as the province heads into its morning and afternoon peak periods, and bear in mind that we were (and still are) in a heat wave. As you can see, wind production dropped as Ontario moved into the critical peak periods. You will also see that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main man-made greenhouse pollutant, from provincial fossil-fired power plants rose in exactly the same hours.
But wait: isn’t the whole purpose of wind energy to put greenhouse gases down? I mean, wind energy is the cornerstone of the Green Energy Act, and the GEA was all about replacing coal plants. So isn’t wind supposed to lower electricity-related greenhouse gases?
Why yes it is. So why did a wind-led reduction in greenhouse gas emissions not happen yesterday? Well, because Ontario needed more power during the peak hours, due to the fact that most people in the province keep similar daily schedules. It is what keeps us economically productive.
And because we always need more power during the peak hours and only a fool would rely on wind turbines to provide that power, we relied, as we always do, on those other sources of energy for the extra juice. And what are those extra sources of juice? Fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas.
|Hour||Wind output||Total output||Wind % of total||Total CO2 emissions, tons|
So yesterday was not a good day to tout wind power. But then again no day is a good day for that. Bear in mind that wind is by far the most expensive of the “new” electricity sources that Ontario has brought in under the Green Energy Act.
Now, you tell me. On the basis of the above data, is wind worth any amount of money, let alone the exorbitant prices we are forced to pay wind turbine owners? Remember that wind is in our system precisely to reduce greenhouse gases like CO2.
If you are the Ontario government, days like yesterday might get you wondering why it was you forced wind turbine farms into unwilling rural communities. Those rural communities, justifiably outraged by such aggressive and discourteous policies, voted the governing party out in the 2011 provincial election. This forced the governing party to do all it could to win seats it had a chance of winning. Several of those were in Mississauga, where the governing party had attempted to force yet more power plants into yet more unwilling host communities. To win the seat, the governing party wisely cancelled those power plants. At a huge cost to Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers. Hence the incumbent government’s extremely tenuous position in power.
I’ll answer my own question about whether it was all worth it. The answer is no. If we need more fossil capacity to cover for when wind quits the fight, as it did right at the critical time yesterday, then no wind is not worth it. It is an utter waste of money.