Winning the Battle

With the New Year upon us, I thought I would reflect on the state of the world. It is sometimes easy to get discouraged. The climate denial machine, funded by fossil fuel lobbies, continues to have more ink than they deserve. Copenhagen collapsed in disarray – it’s a wonder our species has made it this far. The anti wind crowd, for the benefit of few – the fossil and nuclear business – continues to make noise, and fabricate no end of misinformation to scare people and divide communities. But what is happening on the ground?

Quite a lot. My firm completed 4 more turbines – Proof Line – 6.6 MW, increasing installed capacity to 21.6 MW. That is an increase of 44%. It was not an easy project. Turbines were readily available this time around, but obtaining debt financing was much more difficult. The financial meltdown made lending more difficult, but still doable.

Installed wind capacity in Canada as a whole increased to 3249 MW, up from 2369 MW, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association. That is growth of 37%. This capacity will supply about 1.5% of Canada’s electricity. That is remarkable growth considering the state of the economy. Try to find any other sector of the economy that grew by that much in 2009.

Car shows were full of future hybrid electric, and electric vehicles. The business press was full of stories about new battery or capacitor technologies that would drive the new car paradigm over the next two decades.

CO2 emissions in the electricity sector, and in the economy as a whole, have fallen for at least 2 years in a row. It isn’t all just the recession which tends to reduce demand for energy. New renewables like wind, as well as switching from coal to natural gas, and newly aggressive conservation efforts have made a big difference.

Worldwide, solar photovoltaic installations continue to grow rapidly. And Ontario is about to join the party.

The Green Energy Act in Ontario has been passed. There were 8000 MW of applications in the initial application period. Clearly there is lots of interest by Ontarions. The first 700 contracts for small installations (mainly solar), have been granted. And at least some of them have begun.

So it easy to despair. To blame the politicians, or big business. Or the lobbies for the status quo. But is it possible that the battle for sustainability is being won anyways?

Leave a Reply