Why Wind Energy Makes Sense
December 21, 2011
Considering that wind energy is still relatively new on the Canadian landscape, a strong and consistent focus is needed to effectively educate landowners and other stakeholders on the many benefits that wind farms provide.
Anyone involved as a stakeholder in the wind energy business – whether as a developer, landowner, engineer, contractor, craft worker, etc. – understands the importance of this exciting and evolving industry. As stewards of wind energy, it is important to promote the environmental and economic benefits on both a local and national scale.
Positive impacts to the environment
Compared to other types of energy generation, wind energy uses virtually no water. As a result, local water resources can be preserved for uses like irrigation, drinking water, recreation, or simply left alone in its natural state to be enjoyed by all.
As a green energy initiative, wind energy offsets the emissions of other non-renewable energy sources (such as fossil fuel-fired power plants), thus reducing our healthcare and environmental costs while reducing our contribution to global climate change. If we use wind energy to power 200 homes (2,000,000 kWh) – instead of burning 900,000 kilograms of coal – we can reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 2,000 tons. This has the same positive environmental impact as taking 417 cars off the road or planting 10,000 trees.
Wind energy does not produce any harmful waterborne emissions or toxic solid wastes since it is completely renewable, as well as highly reliable and efficient.
From 2011 to 2018 the wind energy sector in Ontario is expected to attract $16.4 billion of private investments, of which $8.5 billion will be invested locally in Ontario. It is also expected to contribute more than $1.1 billion of revenue to local Ontario municipalities and landowners in the form of taxes and lease payments over the 20-year lifespan of projects.
The economic benefits of wind can be felt on both a larger, macro level and on a micro, more locally-focused level. From a broad economic perspective, wind energy is one of the most economical sources of new, large-scale electricity generation and is continuing to become even more cost efficient to produce as economies of scale are reached and as electricity prices increase.
On a microeconomic scale, wind energy creates alternative revenues which serve to preserve farming heritage for farmers and other landowners who lease their land. Wind energy is also compatible with other land uses and can serve as a boost for rural economic development, generating a significant new source of tax revenue for local municipalities. New local initiatives can be undertaken such as the construction/improvement of community centers, roads, park maintenance and more can be funded, in part, by this new tax base.
Wind energy creates jobs in communities during both the construction and operational phases. In a local community, each 100 MW of new wind energy capacity represents over 250 jobs per year during the development phase and 18 permanent operations and maintenance jobs, with many of these jobs being located in rural areas. The construction of wind farms also support existing businesses such as local hotels, housing rentals, restaurants, and other businesses (i.e. hardware stores, etc.) Additionally, wind farms are routinely seen as tourism draws for the local community. Some wind farms get upwards of 60,000 visits a year which is enough to financially benefit many local businesses.
When it comes to determining which energy generating options are the most viable, it is important to remember to take a holistic approach when weighing out the pros and cons attached to each. Among the available options, wind power stands out as a shinning star as it yields many environmental and economic benefits which can benefit both our communities and our future.
About the author: Carine Rozen is a Business Development Supervisor in Mortenson Construction’s Toronto office. Originally from Vancouver, Carine graduated from York University with a degree in Business and Marketing.