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The future of wind power in Manitoba - Environment and economy prime considerations in developing Manitoba’s wind industry

Last week, the provincial government announced an open invitation to wind power in Manitoba — an invitation that comes before concrete plans to use the increased renewable energy.

Jim Crone, the province’s director of energy economic development, said that there are a number of developers expressing interest in Manitoba’s potential for wind power. But for now, with the exception of a wind farm in St. Leon, where construction on a 99 megawatt (MW) project began this April, the province’s goal of 1000 MWs of wind power is still up in the air. <p>

Eric Bibeau, NSERC/Manitoba Hydro Alternative Energy Industrial Chair in the faculty of engineering, said that the province’s strategy for green energy development doesn’t focus enough on the vast capacity for hydroelectric power in the province.

Bibeau said that there is less potential for the successful development of wind power in Manitoba than in Europe for several reasons: less wind, less energy production, and emerging technology. Most importantly, he noted that the European community would not focus on wind power if it had the large hydroelectric capacity of Manitoba — a capacity Bibeau said has the potential to make the province a continental leader in green energy. He added that there is much less potential for wind development than generally accepted: instead of a one to one ratio of hydro... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Jim Crone, the province’s director of energy economic development, said that there are a number of developers expressing interest in Manitoba’s potential for wind power. But for now, with the exception of a wind farm in St. Leon, where construction on a 99 megawatt (MW) project began this April, the province’s goal of 1000 MWs of wind power is still up in the air. <p>

Eric Bibeau, NSERC/Manitoba Hydro Alternative Energy Industrial Chair in the faculty of engineering, said that the province’s strategy for green energy development doesn’t focus enough on the vast capacity for hydroelectric power in the province.

Bibeau said that there is less potential for the successful development of wind power in Manitoba than in Europe for several reasons: less wind, less energy production, and emerging technology. Most importantly, he noted that the European community would not focus on wind power if it had the large hydroelectric capacity of Manitoba — a capacity Bibeau said has the potential to make the province a continental leader in green energy. He added that there is much less potential for wind development than generally accepted: instead of a one to one ratio of hydro to wind capacity, he estimates the two sources are worth 0.8 and 0.25, respectively.

“But [hydro] is dependable, storable, dispatchable — it’s a different product, it’s a way different product. So wind, yes, all the wind you can. . . . Wind won’t give us the cheapest electricity.

” “Politicians only want to do two things: wind and hydrogen,” he said. “It doesn’t upset anybody, it’s a safe bet. It’s not a strategy.”

Bibeau said that the most important focus of new electricity development for Manitoba is necessarily to export power, but the industry has stagnated, he said, much like Quebec, due to an extensive licensing process, and Manitoba continues to focus on large hydro projects.

Bibeau also noted that Manitoba, with its ready supply of electricity, should focus on other areas of renewable energy development, particularly in the transport industry.

“It’s a proven technology: it’s not something that’s emerging, it’s been around for awhile. I guess you could say it’s the fastest growing technology in the world right now,” said Crone.

He noted that the cost of wind power is “pretty close to hydroelectric.” Crone said that wind power could potentially act as a supplement to Manitoba Hydro, particularly during times of drought. The provincial utility distributes all wind energy through its power grid, and as such is involved with the development of wind power.

He added that he wants to see the province become a leader in wind power, attracting not just generation but the whole industry, as well as research and development. Wind power is part of the province’s strategy, he concluded, for both “economic and environmental reasons.”

Dan Busby, a senior wildlife biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service, said that most impacts to the environment from existing wind farms in Canada are relatively minor —some birds, as well as some bats may be affected, though not in great numbers. “

A lot of these farms are put in very windy places — which makes sense — but a lot of windy places are frequented by birds,” he noted.

In the prairies, nocturnal migrating songbirds are most at risk from wind turbines: these birds are common and include thrushes, warblers and flycatchers — birds that fly south for the winter using stars as navigational aids, and that can be attracted to the lights on wind turbines.

Busby also noted that bats might be more of a problem at wind farms than birds. Both concerns are mitigated by federal and provincial requirements that environmental impact assessments be conducted prior to any construction. “

But the forecast is for there to be many, many more increases in wind farms over the next few years, so we certainly have to be very careful about the way we site these things,” Busby said.


Source: http://umanitoba.ca/manitob...

DEC 1 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/563-the-future-of-wind-power-in-manitoba-environment-and-economy-prime-considerations-in-developing-manitoba-s-wind-industry
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