Ontario has so far approved thousands of green energy contracts, ranging in size from a few solar panels on the roof of a family home to industrial-scale projects, in which they agree to pay several times the going electricity rate for periods of up to 40 years. It has also signed a controversial $7-billion deal with a consortium led by South Korean giant Samsung that includes a massive investment in wind and solar electricity. The hope is that all the spending will seed a new green energy industry in Ontario (all projects must source a percentage of materials locally), creating some 50,000 new jobs in the process.
Posted by Ian:
With no clearly defined picture as to what Canada’s agri-industry should look like in the coming decades, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is taking a lead role in devising a national food strategy. OFA vice-president Mark Wales, who farms near Copenhagen in east Elgin, is a vocal advocate for a clear, defining agricultural template that can be adopted on a national scale.
City Scope conducted a lengthy interview with Mark on March 9 of this year. What follows is the entire unedited version of the phone interview with Mark in Toronto that delved into a national food strategy, a similar undertaking in the U.K., GM foods and other agri-industry topics on the radar.
City Scope: Mark, define for us what has led up to the push for a national food policy.
Mark Wales: There never has been any clear defining, overarching national or even provincial food strategy in this country. Some municipalities, like Vancouver, have a food strategy and I think Manitoba has a bit of one, but those are mainly focused around very local food. But there is nothing overall to say what should Canadian agriculture look like, whom should we be trying to feed, what should we be trying to produce and who should be doing it and under what standards and so on.
There is a myriad of policies but none of them with any overarching vision or strategy. So, that’s what we’re working on here, both in Ontario at the OFA level, and at the national level through the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
While investment analysts are telling their clients to get out of solar power firms and warning about the continuing risks in wind and bioenergy schemes, Ottawa and the provinces are on a mad populist stampede to throw billions of dollars at the green energy monster. The politicians don’t seem to be keeping up with the trends. “Don’t try to catch a falling knife,” warned J.P. Morgan this week in a report that told investors the market continues to fall out of the solar panel module market. It downgraded a bunch of solar companies that have already been in a tailspin since the fist signs of a solar crash back in 2008.
Other alternative energy sectors are hitting walls. Jurisdictions with wind power regimes face continuing issues related to the fact that the wind often doesn’t blow much, turning investments in wind farms into cash-draining albatrosses. In Ontario, the 1,100 megawatts of built wind turbine capacity are often running a few megawatts at a time, and even on the best of days have trouble producing 150 megawatts.
In October 2007, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) — the government’s own agency, tasked with planning Ontario’s power system and now entering into long-term contracts with renewable energy producers — published its Integrated Power System Plan, where it analyzed a “high wind power” scenario for the province, and concluded: “Since wind generation has an effective capacity of 20% compared to 73% for hydroelectric generation, additional generation capacity with better load-following characteristics would need to be installed.
“This needed capacity will likely have to be obtained by installing additional gas-fired generation. Thus, in addition to incurring further capital costs for the gas generation installation, higher gas usage would be expected to make up for the reduced amount of renewable energy from wind compared to that from hydroelectric generation or this alternative. Therefore, this alternative would result in higher greenhouse gas emissions.” The OPA concluded: “Wind and solar power will never be more than a niche supplier of power in Ontario.”
For an hour-by-hour comparison of generator output and capability, visit the IESO website. Scroll down to wind total. In particular for Elgin county, follow the meagre output from the Erie Shores Wind Farm near Port Burwell.
A proposal to put 700 wind turbines along the shores of Lakes St. Clair and Erie, each about as tall as a 40-story building, is provoking controversy in Canada and the U.S.
The turbines, planted on the lake bottom and arranged in grids jutting more than 3 miles out into the lakes, easily would be seen from the marinas and mansions of the Grosse Pointes, as well as from Rockwood, Gibraltar and Grosse Ile.
Some residents on both sides of the border are worried about how the windmills would affect shoreline property values, fishing, boating and bird migration. The turbines would be on major migratory pathways for birds at several major wildlife refuges, including Point Pelee, Ontario, and the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge.
Posted by Ian:
Following Ontario’s $7 billion deal with Samsung, will the province really benefit from the creation of green energy jobs? Not according to a study looking at the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which found early $2 billion has been spent on wind power, funding the creation of enough new wind farms to power 2.4 million homes over the past year. But the study found that nearly 80 percent of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines.
Does this not sound very much like Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act which severely limits local municipal and resident opposition to wind farms. And where is the requested study on the effects of wind turbine noise? Here’s what is unfolding on the Yorkshire Dales, one of the most scenic environments in the north of England …
Government officials suppressed a damning report on the noise caused by wind turbines in order to push ahead with the building of hundreds of on-line windfarms in England, a report in the Sunday Times alleged yesterday (December 13).
This will come to a shock to residents of the western Yorkshire Dales, where a planning enquiry is to be held in the New Year into plans by a German company to erect five giant wind turbines the size of Big Ben just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park near Gargrave.
The turbines could be seen across 40 miles of the most beautiful countryside in the north of England, not just from the national park but also from the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire and Pendle Hill, site of the infamous witch trials and a tourist magnet.
When driving through Don Quixote country in Spain’s Castille-La Mancha region, you are dazzled by the spectacle of wind farms proudly churning out the energy that will save Iberia and the planet, followed, once you cross into Andalusia, by solar farms and the green jobs of the future.
Except that if things continue as they are in Spain, the world’s poster child for renewable fuel, wind and solar energy may not save us after all — or renew the capitalist economy.
Research at the University of Waterloo has led four southern Ontario farmers to send straw from soft, white winter wheat to an auto parts plant in Ohio for plastic production that is ending up as third-row storage bins in the Flex crossover vehicle in Oakville.
In an industry that is quickly developing and manufacturing so-called green interiors, Ford says it is the world’s first automaker to develop and use straw for plastic in a vehicle.