Posted in loreeebee.ca, rant, technology

Are Wind Turbines Efficient? They Sure are Ugly!

photo credit

Are the monstrously ugly wind turbines (windmills) dotting the otherwise beautiful countryside efficient? You can probably tell I don’t approve of them. I am reminded how much I don’t believe in their efficiency or practicality every time I drive to my favourite farm.

That’s because there is an enormous north-south swath of them crossing highway 43 near the intersection of county road 11, the last leg of our trip from Ottawa to the farm in Eastern Ontario.

My last venture in that direction that was no exception. My four year old grandson, my travelling partner that day, summed up my feelings pretty well with a loud “whoa, what the heck is that big thing?” When I explained that it was a windmill, there to gather energy from the wind, he was quick to point out “but it’s not even moving!”

Exactly! During my last visit none of the windmills were operational. I mentioned this to my uncle upon arriving at his farm; apparently they were just installed. This time, a month or so later, maybe fifty percent were in motion. Not exactly a great track record.

How do Windmills Generate Electricity?

This YouTube video posted on Good Energy in the UK explains how well the windmills are working, especially within the north-western corner of Europe where it almost always windy:

Are Windmills Efficient?

In reducing carbon footprints, these windmills are efficient, actually one of the smallest footprints in current practices of renewable generators. That’s because they do not release emissions of any sort into the atmosphere. However, their actual physical footprint is enormous, taking up huge amounts of land.

Optimal sites for wind farms are in remote locations due to the amount of space they require. The problem with this is that (expensive) transmission lines must be established to get the electricity from the remote locations to the big cities that use the most electricity. This however can be lucrative in the form of extra income for the owners of remote properties since the owners of wind power plants pay rent to the landowners, often farmers or ranchers, for the use of their land.

A windmill or wind turbine is typically only a maximum of 50% efficient when wind is at a peak level. Wind however, is typically inconsistent; very few global locations would have consistent winds to maximize the efficiency level.

Theoretically wind power is cost effective because the electricity generated can be sold at a fixed price over many years, unlike the price of gas and oil which fluctuates like our Canadian weather. Wind turbines are exorbitantly expensive to make, install, and maintain, then only last on average 25 years. The wind is the inexpensive part, as it is a (free) natural resource.

Esthetics and Dangers of Wind Turbines

Not only are wind turbines hideous to look at, they have proven to be annoyingly noisy (when they work) as well as harmful, often fatal to birds. Hundreds of thousands of birds and bats are killed annually, in collisions with the massive rotating (and sedentary) arms of the wind turbines.

Conclusions

I like to think I am open minded as well as a proponent for green energy. Why then, do these wind turbines bother me so much? Probably because I am also a proponent of sensibility, natural beauty, and efficiency, especially cost efficiency.

Posted in Canada, current events, nature, Ottawa, weather

Patricia visits Eastern Ontario

Tropical storm Patricia is visiting Eastern Ontario tonight, but she is not a welcome guest.  Of course I would pick today to drive from Ottawa to Kingston and back.  As my son and I left Ottawa this morning the skies were gray, but the storm had not hit here yet.  As we drove south and west toward Kingston, the rain started and the wind picked up, making the drive a slow one…

Although the Kingston radio stations were saying the worst of storm Patricia had not hit yet when we left there for the drive back home to Ottawa, the wind and rain had increased considerably.  Darkness had settled in as well, so the drive was not a boring one.

Although we are now home safe and sound, Patricia is still wreaking havoc outside my window. Hopefully when I get up tomorrow morning she will have left the area without leaving too many reminders of her visit.