Wind Energy Salon

This Salon’s topic is…. Wind Energy!

In brief:

Take your pick: sustainable energy or community rights. This is the great challenge presented by the provincial pursuit of wind energy. Strong evidence suggests the benefits of the windy investment, albeit amidst an environment of opposition from rural communities.  In the recent Ontario election, 7 Liberal incumbents lost their seats on the topic of wind energy, strongly impacting the composition of provincial parliament. Clearly the people have spoken, but what does that mean for the future of renewable energy in Ontario? How can we manage such competing interests? Is wind energy all that it’s cracked up to be, how effective is it?

Resources:

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start. Feel free to add on in the comments section.

Pro:                                                                                                                Con:

Pembina Institute                                                                                        AWEO

David Suzuki Foundation                                                                          Wind Concerns Ontario

Environmental Defense                                                                             Wind Vigilance 

In the Press:

Ontario Election (Globe & Mail)

Community Response (The Observer)

Offshore Wind Plan Cancelled (Globe & Mail)

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2 Responses to Wind Energy Salon

  1. Steve Kwa says:

    I’m not sure if I can make it but it would be great if someone mentioned/did more research on the advances in wind energy technology (see VAWTS) and how they may eliminate some, if not many, of the worries of those against wind farms.

    As a side note, The Law of the Conservation of Energy (and Mass) is one of the fundamental laws of physics – energy does not get “lost” in the closed system; it is simply transformed into “unusable” forms of energy. A simple example: old incandescent light bulbs that “wasted” energy. The energy they used was not fully utilized for light because much of it was given off as “useless” heat. Imagine if that heat was trapped and used to heat buildings, water boilers, or even used to produce steam for turbines that produce more electricity. Think about the energy that cars (or electric vehicles) “use up”. Then think about whether the wind they create when they drive past highway dividers could be harnessed. Think about whether the energy expended as friction on the ground could itself be harnessed, etc. There are so many possibilities that can be based on this fundamental law – even the heat generated by the human body as it burns calories could conceivable be harnessed. Technically, it should be a zero sum gain: energy-in = energy-out. The problem is, a high percentage of the energy-out is not always seen nor thought to be usable.

    The goal isn’t to produce more energy – technically that’s impossible given the Law. Rather, the goal is to keep the energy in the system from being sequestered or transformed into “unusable” forms of energy. Ultimately, it boils down to timing. In some sense, all forms of energy are renewable but some simply require an unreasonable wait (i.e. sequestered energy trapped in organic matter takes millions of years to become usable again – fossil fuels). Other, more renewable resources like wind, air, solar, etc. have the ability to become useful almost immediately, given forward thinking and efficient/effective methods of storing and releasing energy to fit our demanding time constraints. And in that sense, there are two parts of another, maybe more important equation: our accustomed standard of living and energy expectations given time Vs. the amount of energy the system can release in usable forms to meet those expectations.

    But I digress… 🙂

  2. Jo Flatt says:

    Fantastic, Steve! I love your insights! I wish I could be harnessing my energy whenever I bicycle, I could at least pop some corn by now! There are so many cool ways to think about generating and conserving energy, we just have to get our ‘creative thinking-caps on’.

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