Wind Energy Expert Prompts Ontario Government

Paul Gipe, an internationally-recognized authority on wind energy, told members of the provincial parliament (MPP) that Ontario could potentially get 10% of its electricity from wind energy by 2012. He also said it was feasible to cut demand for electricity by more than 20% in the same period.

Ontario, Canada – March 29, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] To emphasize his point that everyone can contribute to using electricity more efficiently, Gipe, acting executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, gave each member of the government’s Conservation Action Team a compact fluorescent bulb. Each bulb uses one-quarter the electricity of the common light bulb. Ontario households use fifty percent more electricity than the average household in California, and almost three times more than the typical northern European home, Gipe told the MPPs. Gipe said that California cut electricity consumption during the height of the state’s power crisis from eight to ten percent and many households, including his own, cut their utility bills by more than 20 percent. According to Gipe, Ontario is ripe for a renewable energy program similar to those in Germany and Spain. Both countries employ what he called “advanced renewable tariffs.” Spain, explained Gipe, installed 2,000 MW of wind generation within five years and another 2,000 MW in less than two years. Germany installed more than 3,000 MW in one year alone. “They were able to do so because they unleashed the power of the market to determine where and how much new wind generating capacity would be built,” Gipe said. “These countries were not dependent upon cumbersome bidding systems.” Gipe suggests that “advanced renewable tariffs” are the kind of creative program Provincial Energy minister Dwight Duncan is demanding. “Ontario can leap to the forefront of renewable energy development in North America if it has the will to do so,” Gipe said. “The province may also be able to snare some of the manufacturing jobs that follow from a stable and growing market.” Currently there is only one manufacturer of commercial wind turbines in North America, GE Wind in Tehachapi, California. There are nearly a dozen manufacturers of wind turbines in Europe, and most wind turbines used in North America are imported. Only a handful of commercial wind turbines now operate in the province. There are a number of projects in the planning stages and the government will be requesting bids for about 300 MW of new renewable generation. However, Gipe told the MPPs that using Spain and Germany as examples of what can be accomplished in a short period of time, it’s conceivable the province could generate 8,000 MW from wind turbines by 2012, providing 10% of Ontario’s electricity supply. Gipe noted that advanced renewable tariffs have also enabled hundreds of thousands of Germans and Danes to develop, own, and operate their own wind turbines. “It’s this community ownership that is one reason why wind energy has been so successful in these countries,” he said. “There are no reasons why Ontario farmers can’t contribute to solving the province’s power shortage by installing their own wind turbines.” There are nearly 80,000 people employed directly and indirectly in the European wind industry. Most of the jobs are in countries with advanced renewable tariffs, such as Germany and Spain.
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