1.4 Windmills

TORONTO, ONTARIO: The windmill by Lake Ontario has become as much an iconic part of the Toronto landscape as the CN Tower and the Skydome or Rogers Centre or whatever it’s called now. There is something comforting when the windmill is turned on, its blades rotating to create energy through completely natural means. The windmill boasts that it is North America’s first urban wind turbine and I wonder why we don’t have more lining the lake. Wind turbines need to be located next to bodies of water where the winds are strong and there is little turbulence. It gets damn windy down there by the lake, so why not build more.

Our wind turbine is operated by something called WindShare, a community initiative whose mission is to provide clean, renewable energy at cost to members who are individuals, families and businesses. Members purchased shares in the co-op in order to fund half the capital costs of the wind turbine. Windshare drew its inspiration from Denmark where 26% of the country’s total wind power is owned by co-ops. We should listen to the Danes more.

I learned about the wind turbine and the more I learned, the more it fueled my wonder about why we are not building more of these. There is enough wind potential in Canada to meet at least 20% of our country’s current electricity needs. According to the Independent Power Producers Society of Ontario, it is cheaper per kilowatt hour to build, operate and decommission a wind farm than any other type of new power generating station. Wind power is now cost-competitive with conventional energy sources such as coal, hydro and nuclear. It is also clean and safe: There are no emissions or radioactive waste to worry about.

This all makes sense to me and it seems good, very good. So why aren’t we building more of these again?

And what do you think?