Environmental considerations for wind energy
In response to the editorial "One step at a time", Sept. 24, 2009, the comments are concluded with the sentence, "Time we started dovetailing our own attitudes."
While there are many concerns about the feasibility of wind energy, and the production of it, such as health concerns, impact of bird and animal life, along with the ugliness of the towers themselves, there are three points the proponents of such a system neglect to mention
1. The European/U. S. A. experience where such systems have been in place for some time demonstrate this system of generating electricity has an efficiency factor of 10 to 20% That means that to generate 1.5 mw of power (the capacity of one turbine), there has to be at least five towers in place.
2. The wind energy companies, in those areas, have only been profitable if they are heavily subsidized. Because of these costs, Denmark, which is often cited as being a good example of using wind, has now ceased to erect new onshore facilities and withdrawn subsidies for existing sites. The companies, needless to say, have stopped developing onshore wind plants, with the resulting impact on manufacturers in the industry.
3. The impact of a tower base, with digging and blasting, can incur a hole up to 30 feet deep and 40 feet in diameter. This then has to be filled it with up to 1,250 tons of reinforced concrete. This has an impact on ground water tables and aquifers. When an aquifer is damaged, experiences here, in England and the U. S. A. have demonstrated, it does not recover. Wells in the water basin area of such a system run, and remain, dry.
In Ontario, the effect of damage to a water table was shown, in my experience, when a water pipe line was extended recently across York Region to service King City area. The line was only dug down about six feet for construction purposes, but farm wells up to 100 feet deep in the area of Vandorf, which had been in use for several generations, went dry and they have never come back into service.
Recognizing the importance of the farming industry to Northumberland, if the farm does not have access to water, what is the impact on the farm and its livestock?
For a farm, or a rural property owner, to bear the cost of digging a new well, due to the imposition of a proven faulty technology, by a government or a company, for political-or taxpayer-subsidized gain, is unacceptable.
So, yes, we must, as noted, "dovetail our own attitudes". But let us dovetail those attitudes on a fully informed basis, not only on theoretical economic benefits, and on half truths currently in the public domain by the wind energy companies, and the provincial government, but also on the full economic costs and a complete understanding of the system impact.
It is that impact that will affect us all.
Anthony White Grafton