TILTING AT WINDMILLS AND THE CAPE SCOTT WIND PROJECT – A TURNABOUT, INDEED!
As the story goes, Don Quixote comes into sight of 30 or 40 windmills: “Fortune,” he says, “is arranging matters for us better than we could have hoped.”
This blog post dates back to 2004, when I wrote an article for the local newspaper, as a proponent for what was then known as the Knob Hill Wind Proposal. This is a recycled and updated version of that story.
Talk of the town is the “windmill guys”, bringing business opportunities, jobs, and hope for the future to Northern Vancouver Island. And, to the earths biosphere as a whole.
The Cape Scott Wind Project, is an inspiring 300 million dollar project, located on a barren plateau near the Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
Construction of phase 1 began in 2012, which includes 55 Vestas Wind Turbines that will produce 99 Mega-Watts of electricity at peak output.
The installed capacity of the worlds wind energy is 282,482 Mega-Watts, way up from 31,180 Mega-Watts in 2002.
Wind Energy is taking off world wide:
1) Today, wind turbines provide about 3% of the worlds electricity. Five years from now in 2018, this is anticipated to rise to 8% of global demand, according to the World Wind Association.
2) Global wind power installations have grown exponentially in the past few decades. Between 2005-2010, the average annual growth rate was 27.4%, despite the wind industry being affected by the international financial crisis.
3) Wind power has the potential to provide 20% of Canada’s energy supply, as estimated by the Canadian Wind Energy Association – (this link shows a list of about 150 Canadian wind farms.)
4) 29% of Denmark’s electricity is wind powered, 19% for Portugal , !6% for Spain, 14% for Ireland, and 8% for Germany.
Wind Power is not new – many societies were built upon harnessing wind for water pumping, milling, and sail power.
The nacelle of a modern wind turbine houses main components and is almost the size of a bus.
As it goes, the power of wind is experiencing a renewal.
And although it blows intermittently, the wind stays at a constant price of zero. Meanwhile, oil prices are chaotic, with a general trend upwards.
Still, the cards are stacked – fossil fuels received 523 Billion dollars in world-wide subsidies in 2011, which is 6 times more than for low carbon energy sources like wind and solar.
Canada’s Conservative Government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, subsidizes and promotes continued growth and overdependence of fossil fuels.
An example is the Alberta tar sands, which uses massive amounts of natural gas to melt out the bitumen, even further accentuating climate change.
And absurdly, the Harper government cuts or eliminates research and development of renewable energy and efficiency programs!
A U.S. study titled “Brittle Power” prepared for the Pentagon in 1981 stated that “the foundation of a secure energy system is to need less energy in the first place, and then to get it form sources that are inherently invulnerable because they’re diverse, dispersed, renewable, and mainly local.”
Like the Cape Scott Wind farm on the supply side. And energy efficient goods and automobiles, on the demand side of things.
A power Smart or a bummer Hummer? More or less by 6 or 7 times, in space and fuel usage.
The late visionary and economic scholar, E.F. Schumacher, once wrote: “Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each of us can put up the sail, so that when the wind comes we can catch it.”
Throughout the world today, in many local communities, maybe the Quixotic Dream is not so impossible. And maybe tilting at windmills will be a turnabout indeed . . .
“At this moment a sea breeze sprang up, and in harmony, the great blades began to spin.”
Wind power is on a bright road to the future. Can you see the new horizons?
Watts of Wind-Web-Wednesday’s.
Cheers – Bruce.