Jim Harris, the former Green Party leader, writes in the National Post today about how Denmark is a leader in wind power, yet he fails to point out how wind power in Denmark has not been the magically solution to carbon emission reductions, and that the cost is prohibitive.
Much has been written about Denmark’s success as the world’s wind power pioneer. But the regularly repeated claim – that Denmark generates 20 percent of its electricity demand from wind sources – is highly misleading. That 20 percent of electricity is not supplied continuously from wind power. Denmark’s wind supply is so variable that it relies heavily on neighbors Norway and Sweden, taking their excess production.
From the National Post in April 2009:
Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).
the Danish experience is instructive. Its electricity generation costs are the highest in Europe (15¢/kwh compared to Ontario’s current rate of about 6¢). Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries says, “windmills are a mistake and economically make no sense.” Aase Madsen , the Chair of Energy Policy in the Danish Parliament, calls it “a terribly expensive disaster.”
It seems like wind power in Denmark is not the magic bullet! It is expensive and hasn’t allowed Denmark to close any fossil-fuel plants at all.
Additionally, the evidence is in that wind power needs high subsidies (or feed-in-tariffs) to make it economic:
Wind Band 3 tariff levels should also be changed from a proposed 15-50kW to 15-100kW to more accurately reflect the current nature of the small wind market, the BWEA said. It believes that a reasonable tariff for the expanded band would be the currently suggested 20.5p/kWh.
Note that if electricity today in Canada costs 6-10 cents per kWh, a feed-in-tariff of 30 cents per kWh has to be paid by someone. Either consumers are going to see their power bills rise by 3-5 TIMES, or their taxes are going up. Are Canadians’ prepared for that? Could Jim Harris please include this in his columns so Canadians know he wants to drive up their cost of living?
EDIT: Everyone should read the report identified by one of my commenters