January 21, 2011
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If Nuclear and Coal are phased out
I have yet to understand why the wind power lobby sees the phasing out of nuclear and coal as integral to the energy future of Ontario and beyond.
No responsible or informed discussion on wind or renewable energy sources in general gives the slightest bit of credibility to the position that the electricity needs of Ontario could ever be met by these sources alone. Even with any amount of anticipated conservation added into this the amount of electricity demand will always far exceed the available power from renewables and conservation. In fact, traditional methods of producing electricity produce thousands of megawatts more than renewables each and every day in Ontario. Today (Jan 20th for example) wind was responsible for 90 megawatts of supply to the grid while nuclear was producing well in excess of 10,000 megawatts without one gram of greenhouse gases as a by-product.
The simple mathematics of supply and demand underscore the minimal impact that wind has on the daily electricity needs and this does not even take into account the cost of wind energy at $140 plus dollars per megawatt or solar at 400 plus dollars per megawatt hour. Nuclear power is generally produced at a cost in the range of 40-60 dollars per megawatt hour. Make no mistake that once the health effects of wind turbines are taken into effect and set backs are legislated many in the debate see wind and other renewables as having some role to play in the electricity mix in Ontario, but at no time will wind or renewables meet the base load needs of the province.
The health debate will never go away, but in simplest terms the production of electricity from nuclear energy is the most regulated industry in the world and year over year self regulates itself to less than 1% of allowable emissions to the environment. I wonder if the hundreds of trucks hauling the offshore made parts for windmills ever keep to less than 1% of their allowable emissions.
CANDU Reactors and all their components are over 95% sourced in Canada and have mitigated hundreds of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases since they first came on line. Almost all parties understand the controversy over the use of coal, but to suggest that Ontario will follow a path of renewables, wind and gas instead of converting existing coal plants to the use of biomass is another form of irresponsible energy policy in Ontario.
Thankfully, the government of Ontario recognizes the need for Nuclear Power, but it is time make it clear that wind and renewables are not the answer and will only be a small contributor to Ontario’s energy future. Casually disposing of Nuclear and Coal without looking at alternative uses for existing coal plants and thinking that wind and renewables will take their place is a guarantee for an Ontario with no future economic prosperity.
President Grey-Bruce Labour Council
Below Please find Last week's letter that the above is written in response too.
Phase out nukes, coal
Letters to the editor
If we take seriously the protection of human health we have to phase-out coal and nuclear-powered electricity.
Coal kills hundreds of Ontarians and triggers over 120,000 illnesses (e. g., asthma attacks) annually. It is also the most climate-destructive fuel around, emitting twice as much carbon as natural gas does. Whether the issue is respiratory disease or global warming, coal is a catastrophe.
But nuclear is extremely unhealthy as well. A scientific review by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment found all functioning reactors release radioactive materials on a routine basis.
A 2008 German government study showed children (younger than five) living within five kilometers of a nuclear plant are at elevated risk for leukemia. And Scientific American recently reported nukes harm the climate: "Nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construction and uranium refining and transport are considered."
But to phase-out conventional power we need to use less energy and switch over to renewables, including wind turbines.
Lately there's been a certain amount of anti-wind sentiment from some Ontarians. This is unfortunate because turbines are a far healthier source of power than their competition.
Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, released a scientific literature review on wind and health in October, 2009. In the document she explains that there are anecdotal reports of symptoms such as sleep disturbance and headaches but "there is no scientific evidence, to date, to demonstrate a causal association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects."
In May, 2010, Dr. King released the results of a second scientific literature review. Again she concluded that "the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
But what about concerns besides noise?
A recent (January, 2010) scientific review from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control examined claims that turbines might create electromagnetic fields, potentially cause epilepsy, and possibly throw ice. The study's conclusions:
* Wind turbines are not significant sources of EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure."
* Shadows caused by wind turbine rotors can be annoying, but are not likely to cause epileptic seizures at normal operational speeds..."
* Risk of injury [from ice throw] can be minimized with setbacks of 200 to 500 m..."
The verdict: the current science -from Ontario's top doctor --suggests wind turbines do not threaten human health. Unlike coal, they are not destroying our climate and killing hundreds of Canadians every year. Unlike nuclear, they are not associated with cancer - nor do they condemn the next thousand generations to the menace of radioactive waste.
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Friday, January 21, 2011