Absolutely!

Wind energy is cost competitive and prices continue to fall. Wind energy is directly competitive with natural gas generation and is significantly cheaper than coal and nuclear. It is also cheaper than any other form of renewable power: hydro electricity, solar, deep geothermal and biomass. The financial attractiveness of wind is further confirmed by US government studies that compare the relative economics of different methods of generating electricity. In addition to the absolute price of wind: it is also impressive to consider that the cost of wind has declined by about 95 percent in the last 35 years.

Wind is growing rapidly around the world. We know that wind makes great financial sense because wind energy is growing rapidly across North America and globally. One of the largest investors in wind energy in the US is Warren Buffett: and he's generally not a dummy when it comes to good investment opportunities.

Saskatchewan's world-class wind resource. The icing on the cake is that Saskatchewan has one of the best wind resources of any jurisdiction in North America

But... Despite our world class wind potential, Saskatchewan is currently one of the lowest users of wind energy in Canada. Seven Canadian provinces already generate more of their electricity from  wind than Saskatchewan. All have plans for continued growth of wind energy - Saskatchewan does not.

Wind energy generated 4.1 percent of US electricity in 2013 (the most recent full year for which data is available). Saskatchewan compares poorly at 2.8 percent. 21 US states are ahead of us: and wind energy is growing fast - more than a third of all new generation capacity installed in the US in the last five years has been wind.


 
Posted
AuthorJames Glennie
 

What they say is that wind needs to have complete back up for those occasions when the wind is not blowing. The argument is intuitively appealing but factually incorrect.

What experience actually shows. Very high wind uptake in multiple jurisdictions around the world, together with detailed electro-techncial studies compiled by major companies such as GE, demonstrate that there is no technical nor economic reason why wind energy should not supply at least 20 percent of North America's electricity. Combine that with solar and the amount rises beyond 30 percent.

Dealing with variable wind (& solar) is about changing grid management procedures and practices. High penetration of variable renewables really is possible using little more than a variety of sophisticated, low cost, grid management techniques.

This may include improved wind energy forecasting, 21st century grid management techniques and better use of existing hydro resources.  Strengthened electrical interconnections with neighboring regions (Manitoba, Alberta, North Dakota and Montana) should also be considered.

An example - better use of our existing hydro-electric capacity: Saskatchewan's existing hydro resources are constrained in their current usage because of limited water availability. With increased wind energy usage - we can store water when the wind is blowing and then use that same water to generate electricity when there is no wind.

Another example - wind & solar work well together. The windiest time of year is Fall, Winter and Spring. The sunniest time of year is (surprise!) Summer. Experience from jurisdictions that already have significant wind and solar (Germany) shows that together these two resources provide a relatively stable supply of electricity. Residual volatility can be smoothed using our abundant hydro-electric resource.

Jurisdictions already far beyond 20 percent wind. Proof that it is possible to have more than 20 percent of electricity from wind energy lies in the fact that two US states (Iowa and South Dakota) already generate close to 30 percent of their electricity using wind turbines.

The US is planning for 35 percent electricity from wind. So confident is the US Government in the potential of wind that in May 2014 the Department of Energy released its 'Wind Vision Initiative' in accordance with which the US will source 10 percent of its electricity from wind by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.

If you'd like more information check this blog post.


 
Posted
AuthorJames Glennie
 

Wind energy enjoys considerable public support and achieves substantial human health and environmental benefits. Nonetheless wind energy detractors have publicized their concerns that wind turbines cause adverse health effects.

Here we present the medical and scientific evidence regarding wind turbines and health;

Positive health effects

There are many positive public health and environmental benefits associated with the use of wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind energy is an inexhaustible resource that generates no pollution or toxic waste, does not deplete fresh water resources, and requires no mining, transportation, or refining of a feedstock or fuel.

Electricity produced by wind farms displaces electricity from other sources, usually the oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient power plants on the utility system: in other words - coal. Wind power thus has a direct and immediate benefit in reducing illness and deaths, typically caused by asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, associated with air pollution from coal plants..

If we had 1,000 wind turbines in Saskatchewan generating 20 percent of our electricity the health and environmental benefits over 25 years would be as follows;

Reduced deaths: 1,000 people. Many medical studies have documented the negative health impacts (e.g. asthma attacks, bronchitis and emphysema) of using coal and, to a much lesser extent, natural gas to generate our electricity. Those same studies have also calculated human mortality rates. From these we can estimate that approximately 1,000 lives would be saved.

Mercury out of the atmosphere: 3,700 kilograms. Significant quantities of Mercury are released into the atmosphere when coal is burned in a power station such as Boundary Dam in Estevan. Mercury is a bioaccumulative neurotoxin which, even in extremely low amounts, causes brain damage in humans and which is especially dangerous for children and pregnant or nursing mothers. Studies have found that long term exposure to air contaminated with only 42 millionths of a gram of Mercury per cubic metre, can induce tremors, impaired cognitive skills and sleep disturbance in people.

Toxic trace elements not released: Arsenic - 12,000 kilograms, Lead - 9,000 kilograms, Cadmium - 1,000 kilograms. These chemical elements are extremely toxic in very small quantities yet large amounts of them (+ many others which are not included here) are released when coal is burned in power stations such as Boundary Dam in Estevan. SaskPower does not publish data but emissions are calculated based on the known chemical composition of similar coal bodies.  

Water not lost through power station cooling towers: 140 million cubic metres. Coal- and natural gas-fired power stations need lots of water to cool their boilers. Wind turbines do not need any. The 140 million cubic metres of water saved is equivalent to 5 days of flow of the South Saskatchewan river or the amount of water which would be contained in a 250 kilometre stretch of the river: 250 kilometres is the distance from Regina to Saskatoon.

Coal not mined and burned: 60 million tonnes. This amount of coal would fill a line of railcars 10,000 kilometres in length - that would stretch from Vancouver to Halifax and back again! Or, to put it another way, that much coal would fill a hole in the ground measuring 1 kilometre long, 500 metres wide and 130 metres deep.

Greenhouse gas emissions avoided: 100 million tonnes. If coal and gas is not burned then carbon dioxide is not released. The total greenhouse gas savings of 100 million tonnes is equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road.

Negative health issues? studies show no evidence for direct human health effects from wind turbines

The credible peer-reviewed scientific data and various government reports in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, consistently conclude that wind farms do not harm human health. 

In their own independent reviews of available evidence, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council found that sound from wind turbines does not cause negative health impacts. These findings are supported by this statement from the Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Medical Association which notes the lack of evidence to support claims of negative health effects of wind turbines.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and of Public Health recently commissioned a panel of experts with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering to analyze “the biological plausibility or basis for health effects of turbines (noise, vibration, and flicker).”  The review of existing studies included both peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed literature. 

 Among the key findings of the panel were:

  • There is no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines that can be characterized as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”

  • Claims that infrasound from wind turbines (low-frequency sound, below the level of normal human hearing) directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically.  Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.

  • The strongest epidemiological study conducted to date suggests that there is no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health.

  • None of the limited epidemiological evidence reviewed found an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease or headache/migraine.

In September of 2013 the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland published a new study which consisted of a review of nearly 50 scientific research articles conducted in Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand over the past 10 years. Their conclusion: wind turbines do not cause any detectable adverse health effects.

In November of 2014 Health Canada published findings from the Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study. Launched in 2012, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, this study explored the relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and the health effects reported by, and measured in, people living near wind turbines. Its conclusion "No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported or measured health endpoints examined".



 
 

If you are not quite sure what 'community-owned wind' actually means then check out our 'Community Wind 101' page - otherwise read on!

SaskPower favors large wind projects. SaskPower is currently charged with obtaining the cheapest electricity it can find.  Wind energy is cheapest to build when it is built big. As a result SaskPower favors large wind projects such as Centennial (built in 2006 near Swift Current) and Chaplin (which will be built in 2016 near Chaplin).

SaskPower will almost certainly award future wind projects to out-of-province companies.  Because Saskatchewan is so far behind the curve in developing wind energy - future wind projects are almost certain to be awarded to out-of-province companies. 

Large wind and out-of-province awards, ignores wider benefits of distributed, community-owned wind. There are three main benefits.

1. Community economic development. The single largest source of cash flows during the 25-year operational life of a wind turbine are the returns offered to providers of debt and equity. If wind projects were smaller, and community funded and owned, they would be 5 percent to 10 percent more expensive - but they would retain 60 percent more cash in communities rather than sending it out of province. 
For more information on the financial advantages of community wind check out our 'Community wind benefits' page.

2. Educating the public about energy. One of the biggest challenges with electricity is that it is a largely invisible commodity - it comes out of the wall when needed and that is it!  Getting people directly involved in generating their own power is an excellent way of increasing public knowledge of electricity. The result of this is greater public understanding of electricity price increases to pay for such things as transmission upgrades, cleaning up toxic coal pollution or uncontrolled hikes in natural gas prices.

3. Technical ease of electrical integration. Wind energy is a variable form of generation - wind turbines generate electricity when the wind is blowing and not necessarily when people want electricity. It should therefore not be a surprise that practice as well as multiple electro-technical studies, show that wind turbines are easier and cheaper to manage when projects are small and widely distributed. Community ownership by definition ensures that this is what happens. 

 


 
Posted
AuthorJames Glennie

Posted
AuthorJames Glennie
 

INDIVIDUAL.

Time investment. If at this stage you are interested in the concept but only wish to invest your time, then the material throughout this web-site should answer most of your questions. If after reading all that you are still interested we would greatly value your support and strongly encourage you to join our community.

If you have a specific question then we look forward to hearing from you:  check out our feedback form (on the bottom half of our 'Contact' page) to send us a question. We'll get back to you on the double. 

Cash investment. There are very attractive tax incentives available for individuals wishing to invest in profitable, Saskatchewan-based, enterprises. We are currently developing such opportunities but they do not yet exist. 

At the present time we are working on a number of community-owned wind projects in Saskatchewan - of these only one is public (Saskatoon Community Wind) and details of the others will be announced once we are further along in the process. None of those projects are yet at the stage where we are seeking investment from individual investors. 

We will  announce future investment opportunities as they become available. Sign up to our newsletter to stay abreast of developments! 

Please note: notification of any investment opportunity will be accompanied by a detailed financial prospectus that will contain comprehensive information on the potential financial risks and rewards.

CORPORATE. We would be pleased to talk with Saskatchewan-based financial entities interested in institutional equity or debt investment opportunities. Please contact james.glennie@saskwind.ca


 
Posted
AuthorShift