About a month ago I created a series of Google Earth maps of the installed and proposed wind turbine locations across southern Ontario. I took a snapshot of the turbine locations in Chatham-Kent and posted it on this site. It got a lot of notice, including a couple of comments (#’s 7 and 12) from one Mike Barnard that the pins were misleading and out of scale to the actual size of the turbines. He is correct, given that in Google Earth the pins are a fixed size with respect to the screen and not the underlying scale, so the size of the pins has no relation to the size of whatever it is they are marking. But before Mike crows about “telling us so” let’s do a little calculating.
First, the picture I showed in the earlier posting wasn’t complete. Trying to get an accurate count of what projects are in the pipeline is surprisingly difficult, made more difficult by the constant buying and selling of projects and the sense of secrecy that always seems to accompany the wind energy business. Below is my latest picture, which has roughly another hundred turbines that weren’t on the earlier one, and which now includes Essex County. And I still have little confidence I’ve got them all. Please click to enlarge.
Second, note that most of the pins are grayed out, as they are too packed in to all show up. As an example, in the red rectangle above there are maybe half-a-dozen yellow pins. Upon zooming in, we see that there are quite a few more actual turbines. Just to short-circuit any complaints about me choosing a particularly egregious example, this area was chosen only because it shows the location of the 7 turbines the Chatham-Kent council wants to have eliminated from the Erieau project.
Third, while the size of the turbines may be smaller than the pins (they are actually about 1/4 the size of the pins’ stickers), their noise and visual impacts are somewhat larger than the pins show. I measure the pins to be about 2km across. The visual impacts, especially in the flat C-K terrain, extend for at least 10km. So there will be no place in that entire area where you will be out of sight of multiple turbines. There will be no place where you will be able to see the night sky without blinking red lights. The noise impacts depend on the weather, but often will extend to further than 2km. I doubt there will be any place in that entire area where you will be entirely free of their noise.
Fourth, I’m not showing the off-shore proposals. Just imagine the Canadian sides of Lake St. Clair and eastern Lake Erie filled about as densely as the on-shore picture. I do have a picture of the proposals if you don’t believe me. For now there’s the moratorium on turbines in the Great Lakes, but let’s not kid ourselves – there was an earlier moratorium that was lifted as soon as the election was a memory, and I doubt it will be any different this time around.
So my thanks go to Mike, for giving me an excuse to update the picture, along with the incentive to explain the picture with more clarity.