Misinformation Meeting

My last blog entry here was on December 10th 2008. My older brother, Mark, died of non-smokers lung cancer on December 16. I haven’t blogged since. Losing a brother in a close family knocked us all very hard. It takes away your energy. It makes you reluctant to engage in unpleasant discussions and arguments. It takes time to get over. But I think I am there. My other two brothers have been back on the blog wagon, and have encouraged me to say things, because they think I have something to say. And so here I am. And I am not going to let the misinformation, half truths, and outright falsehoods spread by Wind Concerns Ontario at a recent meeting in Lion’s Head go unchallenged.

I can’t take all of the misinformation on in one blog entry – readers don’t want 20 page entries. So this will be a series. No doubt it can provide fodder for a long time, as the opponents of wind (who must, therefore, also be defenders of the status quo generation sources) have a long and always growing list of misinformation.

I begin with the picture they paint in one of their handouts about what is going on in the rest of the world with wind energy. They are trying to show that other countries, who are more experienced with wind energy, are backing away, and stopping wind development. Nothing could be further from the truth. Much of my information source is Windpower Monthly, April 2009.

Statement: “The Danish government has cancelled plans for wind development.” Fact: Denmark issued a new tender for their largest offshore wind farm in May of this year. With 5000 on shore wind turbines, providing 20% of their power, spread across a land mass that is a three hour train ride from one side to the other, Denmark needs to go offshore.

Statement: “Spain began withdrawing subsidies in 2002, and in 2006 ended by an emergency decree all subsidies and supports for wind power.” Fact: Spain revised their market mechanism. They installed 1600 new megawatts of capacity in the last 15 months – 50% more than Ontario has installed in all time. And a decree is the equivalent of our order in council – it is the way Spain governs. But the word “decree” sure is scary isn’t it? So of course it is the word they choose to use.

Statement: “In 2004 Australia reduced the level of wind energy it was required to buy, and dramatically slowed wind power development.” Fact: Australia had 380 MW of wind in 2004. Today it has 1306. I guess tripling in 6 years is a dramatic slowdown?

Statement: “Germany reduced the tax breaks to wind power and domestic construction has slowed since 2004.” Fact: Germany had 16,629 MW of wind in 2004. Today, it has 23,903 MW. That’s a 50% gain, for the country that has the world’s largest installed capacity. Some slowdown.

Statement: “The Netherlands decommissioned 74 turbines in 2004.”" Fact: The Netherlands, increase their installed capacity from 1747 MW to 2216 MW in the past 15 months. Yes, the smaller, older turbines are sometimes decommissioned. But does this sound like a country that is abondoning wind because it is so evil?

Statment: “Ireland halted all new wind power connection to their grid in 2003.” Fact: Ireland had 495 MW in 2006. Today they have 1053 MW.

So while Wind Concerns Ontario tries to demonstrate that other countries have figured out that wind is not the way to go, it is simply untrue. Other countries have instead been rapidly increasing their purchases of wind energy. In fact, wind energy installations worldwide have increased from 93,881 MW in Jan 2008, to 120,645 MW in April of 2009. That is a 28% increase, with some of that increase coming during the greatest financial crisis in our lifetime. It seems the shift to wind energy is on around the world.

Wind was the largest source of newly installed generating capacity in Europe in 2008. And it was second to natural gas in the US. It seems the rest of the world has figured out that wind is reliable, emissions free, and cost effective. They are buying new wind turbines at an increasing rate. Perhaps the success of wind worldwide has the inumbent suppliers of electricity scared?

Leave a Reply