"Énergie
libre?" 

"En reconnaissant
la menace que
représente le
réchauffement
global pour les
gens et la planète,
les vastes
montants de
capitaux
qu'Énergie NB
a enfouit dans la
technologie basée
sur les
combustibles
fossiles devrait
être considérée
comme une perte
totale et une
somme radiée,"
déclare Yuill
Herbert.

Mount Allison
University, à
Sackville, vient
tout juste de
compléter une
vérification
environnementale
et cet article nous
explique tout ça.

Également, dans
cet article, de
l'information sur
les bienfaits et
les quelques
difficultés de
l'énergie éolienne.

Yuill explique
que les aspects
négatifs de
l'énergie éolienne
sont peu
importants lorsque
comparés aux
caractéristiques
négatives du gaz,
du nucléaire, du
pétrole ou même
des grandes
centrales
hydro-électriques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                      
(photo: Y.Herbert)

"Free energy?"

   Yuill Herbert
   Blue-Green Society
   October 2000

 

lthough NB Power was originally established to provide the people of New Brunswick with affordable power, thereby contributing to public welfare, the corporation now poses a significant liability to that very same public welfare. With the recognition of the threat that global warming poses to the people and the planet, the vast amount of capital that NB Power has invested in fossil fuel based technology must be considered a write-off. This has the consequence of placing the people of New Brunswick in a debt situation.


(photo: Wind Prospect)

There is no easy way out. Take the example of Mount Allison University. According to the environmental audit that was completed this fall, the operations on campus resulted in about 5 654 472.9 kg of greenhouse gas emissions (Kennedy et al, 2000).

Discussions in 1998 indicated that NB Power was unwilling to permit Mount Allison to generate wind power, as this would reduce NB Power's annual income and leave the company with stranded debt (what it has invested in power plants with the expectation of an annual income). However, now that the price of oil is hovering around 35$ per barrel of oil with no sign of relief ahead, the penny pushers at NB Power may be more open to the concept of free wind power. A further hopeful factor is the possibility of a progressive energy policy from the new Lord government.

Mount Allison University is uniquely positioned on the edge of the Tantramar Marshes, one of the two ideal wind energy locations in the province. The wind regime on the marshes has the advantage of being reliable over the long term due to the temperature gradient between the land and the ocean as the world’s largest tides move in and out, but the disadvantage of fluctuating considerably over the short term for the same reason.

Further, the University owns a farm on top of a nearby hill (wind speeds increase with elevation) that is ideally located next to a NB Power transformer.

(Source: Mount Allison University)


The University has peak demands that exceed 1 MW per hour, indicating that a wind turbine of 750 kW to 1 MW range would be suitable, with a blade diameter of 40 metres (120 feet). This is huge by all accounts, particularly since the blade is mounted on a 60-70 metre high tower. In terms of cost, a wind turbine of this size would probably cost about $1.5-2 million, but considering it would generate the majority of the University’s $1 million annual electricity needs for over twenty years, it is a steal of a deal.

Several concerns are immediately apparent. The Tantramar marshes are vitally important for migrating birds. It is conceivable that the installation of such a significant tower could seriously impact bird routes. However, extensive studies in Europe and the US have demonstrated that mortality is less than one bird per year.

The sound of wind turbines can be problematic as they whish, whish around day and night. At 200 metres the sound of a 750 kW machine is significantly louder then whispering, slightly quieter than the interior of the average residence and much quieter than conversational speech at 3 feet. But the persistence of the sound can be irritating for nearby residents (Dillon Consulting, 2000).

The aesthetics of a turbine can be particularly controversial. While some people view the sight (pardon the pun) of wind energy as progressive and hopeful, others perceive the giant towers as a permanent rendition of the very worst of Picasso.

While these concerns are valid, they are insignificant in relation to the negative characteristics of gas, nuclear, oil or even large hydro power plants. However, like every good ecologist knows, there is no free lunch. And so the first step at Mount Allison University must be to minimize energy consumption.

 

  • Kennedy, Kate and Kirkpatrick, Anna. (2000) Mount Allison University Environmental Audit- Draft.
  • Dillon Consulting Ltd. (2000) Wind Turbine Environmental Assessment. Draft Screening Document. Toronto Hydro.