Category Archives: Energy Security

Where’d Wolfe Island Go?

Last week, on December 20th, a moderate ice storm skimmed the Ontario side of Lake Ontario.  It was no big deal as these storms go – the 1998 storm that brought the Wolfe Island CKWS tower down was far far worse.  Since 1998 there have been maybe 3 similar smaller storms.  Apparently it was big enough to shut the 198 MW Wolfe Island Wind Project down.  In the early afternoon of December 20, after several hours of “light freezing drizzle”, the Wolfe Island production went to zero.  Going to zero is not a big deal – all wind farms spend a fair amount of time at zero.  But in this case the winds were still moderate, in the 20 kph range, easily strong enough to produce electricity.

We can all guess what happened.  The ice caused the blades to become unbalanced and the computers brought it all to a stop.  The only question was, how long would it stay down?  The blades are white, unheated, and getting a helicopter to spray de-icer on them would be problematical.  How long before a warm spell or some sun?  In Ontario in Winter, that could be a long time.  As it happens, it was a little over a week.  On December 27 at 10 AM the production numbers moved off of zero for the first time since the 20th.

We all know what happens to our standard of living (and in the Winter that could include dying) if we lose electrical service.  Luckily there’s enough traditional reliable generation capacity in Ontario that the wind production is entirely superfluous (and most of which is exported at a loss).  Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, is fond of saying how wind energy is replacing traditional sources.  Thank goodness he’s wrong about that.

Is there an echo in here?

I don’t take a lot of pleasure out of seeing what I’ve written confirmed, having the “I told you so” moment, just as I don’t take a lot of pleasure out of being the bearer of bad news about wind energy.  But every now and then some industry insider confirms what I’ve been saying and at least that lets me know I’m not totally divorced from reality – that my wits are at least marginally intact.  And I do enjoy having that confirmation.

At the American Public Power Association conference last week in Washington one Kevin Gaden, who is director of a power consortium in Nebraska, made a speech, that from the sounds of it, could have been based on my writings.  Except, of course, it was based on his experience in the field.

Link to The Reality of Wind Power [backup link].  Compare that to my Emissions Savings Summary page.

Energy Security Summary

One of the advantages wind energy proponents claim for their industry is “energy security”.  Everyone knows we import large amounts of oil, and thus the claim seems plausible.  Who wants to be “hostage” to a potentially unfriendly foreign government?  But even a cursory look at the energy market shows that there is little connection between wind turbines and oil imports, while there is  a big connection between wind turbines and other resources that are controlled almost entirely by China. Continue reading Energy Security Summary