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Life Off-the-Grid

Wind Power – a beautiful thing!

Sails and Turbines

Sails and Turbines

Just look at this picture! You can talk about sustainability all you want, but until you see an image like this you don’t realize just how beautiful it can be. This photo was taken in Kingston Ontario where almost 100 wind turbines have recently been erected, and I mean recently. From the time they received the final environmental approvals they were up in about 6 months. It’s just amazing. The turbines will produce enough electricity to power the City of 100,000.

Ontario relies on nuclear power for half of its electrical generation but nuclear plants take forever to build. Our last, Darlington, took 12 years to build (years overdue) and cost close to $12 billion or 4 times the original estimate. The government has recently decided to build new reactors and has just received the quotes back from three reactor companies. These are the initial, preliminary quotes, before the inevitable overruns which come later, and already the government is floored by the cost. According to the Globe and Mail, Energy Minister George Smitherman is suffering from “sticker shock”.

Do you have any idea how much renewable generation capacity could be brought on line with the $26 billion or more that taxpayers are about to spend on nukes? Using energy efficiency, solar power, wind power, natural gas-fired combined heat and power, hydro, and biogas we would not be having to go to the Federal Government to ask for help. What happens with nuclear power is that taxpayers subsidize it so the consumers of the electricity never really have to pay the true cost. Most people in the province also don’t get to see where the electricity is generated. Wind turbines change that. They let you see where the power that makes your life better comes from. I’ve always said the fastest way to get people to use less electricity is to give them a way to generate it with a solar panel. Once you see how much goes into making this amazing stuff called electricity, you start getting responsible with your use of it.

Kingston sits at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and Wolfe Island, where the wind turbines are located, is perfectly situated to take advantage of the strong, consistent winds that blow down the lake. The 1976 Olympic sailing events were actually held in Kingston because of this amazing wind. Apart from the odd dissenting voice, most people in the area seem very supportive of the wind farm. The dissenting voices, I suppose, prefer to not think about the end products of the province’s electricity generation be it CO2 and pollution from the coal or oil plants, or the radioactive tritium that CANDU reactors leak into the Great Lakes. Our reactors release tritium at levels 100 times higher than allowed in Europe and pregnant women and young children are advised to not live near the reactors.
The beauty of radioactive tritium is that you can’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yes, I’ll take the devil I can see anytime, and I find these wind turbines simply beautiful. Functional and beautiful. A towering testimony to the concept of living sustainably. The sailors don’t seem to mind them. I think they understand the inherent power in the wind and the magic of capturing it. I grew up being dragged behind a smoke- and oil-belching outboard motor while I water-skied, until I discovered wind surfing. There is no feeling like the strain in your muscles as you transfer that wind energy from the sail to the board and you feel that speed that your dexterity and body weight were able to capture and channel into motion through the water.

Windsurfers, sailboats and wind turbines! Clean, green wind machines. Bring’em on!


1 Comment

  1. Cool!

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