A ray of hope from China?

China gets 75% of its electricity from generating stations driven by coal. The resulting air-borne pollution threatens the health of residents in large Chinese cities.  On the worst days, these residents breathe not air but smog, smog that contains levels of toxic gases and particulates far beyond well-established limits.

The Chinese Government recognizes that poor air quality is causing a public health crisis.  This recognition drives China’s policy of fast-tracking development of renewable energy – more so than the need for lower carbon emissions or energy security.

China is taking forceful measures to mitigate air-borne pollution, measures that will also reduce CO2 emissions.  For example, Beijing, one of China’s more seriously affected cities, announced new laws to cut emissions from vehicles.  Here are some of the provisions:

  • new car registration will be reduced by 37.5%;
  • of these new registrations 40% must be new energy vehicles;
  • total number of vehicles licenced for Beijing will not exceed 6 million,

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Limiting GHG emissions in the North West Territories

The Diavik Mine ought to be a model for mining operations in the North West Territories.  This mine has large wind turbines to provide electric power for mine operations.  The result is that GHG emissions from the Mine have fallen by 6%, reducing the need for diesel fuel (the source of these emissions) by 5 million litres.

For Our Grandchildren (4RG) has been told that the Mine owners will amortize the large costs of this wind farm in a matter of years.  So shouldn’t this be the standard demanded from all other new mines that are to be opened in the NWT?  And shouldn’t it be a matter of policy to see that wind becomes the source of power for all aboriginal and northern communities and resource operations?

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The potential for wind power in Canada’s North

Representatives attending the Energy and Mines Ministers Conference in Whitehorse toured a wind farm at the Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mine, North West Territories.  This wind farm is the world’s most Northern large-scale wind-diesel hybrid power facility. This three turbine installation has reduced the Mine’s consumption of expensive diesel fuel by approximately five million litres per annum and GreenHouse gases (GHG) emissions by 6%. (See the Company’s video of this installation.)

This Diavik tour helped the Conference appreciate how wind power can reduce GHG emissions from mine sites. Perhaps the tour was the inspiration for a brief ten word reference to renewable energy in the lengthy Conference Final Press Release.  The press release also stated that the Ministers would continue to discuss many topics, of which investing in renewable energy was one.

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Ontario Leadership Required!

On May 6th last, the Ontario Government released a new policy for renewable energy. The new policy gives municipalities more control over the location of new large renewable energy projects. This change is a response to public criticism of the Government’s failure to consult with respect to the location of large gas-fired generating plants and placing of wind turbines.   While the new policy is politically necessary, it is administratively cumbersome. By way of contrast, a recent Report of the Ontario Distribution Sector Review Panel recommended consolidating the province’s local distribution companies (your municipal hydro company), which will encourage the development of “smart grids” that efficiently deliver electricity at a lower cost.

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Green Innovation on Our Street

When collecting signatures for our petition on renewable energy, we made an interesting discovery.  One of our neighbours is associated with a company that specializes in renewable energy technology.  Green Syndications, working with George Brown College in Toronto, has developed a line of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines, with models designed to generate a maximum output of electricity from 2.5 to 10 KW.  The structure is also fitted with small solar panels that supplement output in calm wind conditions.

These small wind turbines have many advantages: they can be easily transported and set up; they are silent; they can operate in turbulent air flows; they are a good size for roof-top installation.  As they are less costly to manufacture, they will be priced less than other roof installations.

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