Researcher/writer William Kay, of the blog Ecofascism, wrote a research trilogy last year (2015) on the geopolitics of climate change. Part three – “A Tale of Two Places” is instructive for Albertans and Canadians at this time as there is a push to incorporate renewables and be ‘green like Denmark.’ But is Denmark ‘green’? If so, why are they still using so much coal? And if Denmark has Alberta’s wealth of high-quality coal, would they be building wind farms at sea?
Download “A Tale of Two Places” via the link below :
In a Calgary Herald report of Sept. 14, 2016, Alberta’s NDP government claims it will have “30 percent renewable power by 2030” – but despite Denmark’s massive offshore wind resources, it had only managed to get 17% power from wind, and then only because it has a unique power grid configuration that is split in half, with one-half connected to Norway’s hydro and the other half connected to Sweden’s nuclear – both of which can handle the ebb, flow, and spill of wind power. Conventional grids backed up with natural gas could not.
Though Denmark effectively generates more power from wind than the 17% or so that it uses, it usually has to spill this highly subsidized power offshore to Sweden and Norway which are pretty much ‘carbon neutral’ anyway.
World Nuclear Association has some interesting discussion on the power mix in Denmark and may include some more up-to-date figures than “A Tale of Two Places” – but in principle, the fact remains that Alberta does not have equivalent wind resources to Denmark, and Alberta does have lots of very affordable coal.
Wind power is an erratic and unpredictable force that must be backed up 24/7 by equivalent fossil fuel (or hydro) resources and ‘peaking’ gas powered plants must be at the ready to ramp up or down power production to fill the sudden drops in power. This natural gas back-up was found by Ontario Professional Engineers to actually increase carbon dioxide emissions (Ontario has nuclear back-up and hydro).
Data Source: AESO – graph shows erratic nature of wind power in the 3rd quarter of 2012
Geopolitics are a key factor in the climate change game, as noted by Prof. Dr. Istvan Marko in numerous blog pieces on this weblog. Albertans should think carefully before going down an expensive path that does not result in a more reliable or affordable power system. Let’s learn the Lessons Learned in Germany.
A review of some of the wind energy challenges can be seen in this presentation to Alberta School Boards.wind-power3
“Mike, we are a green energy company, but the green stands for money.”
Jeffery Skilling, President, Enron