There is a vocal movement of people and members of government that believe that our energy needs can be met 100% through renewable sources by 2050. Building an energy grid that is capable of supplying demand with 100% renewable energy by 2050 is simply not plausible.  I think we are owed an explanation as to how we have gone so far with this de-carbonization project without a serious challenge in terms of its engineering and economic realities. The following are reasonable questions sprinkled with my musings on the incongruence of many of today’s thought leaders . Their steadfast belief that humans will be weaned from fossil fuels and capable of satisfying their energy demands with 100% renewable sources by the year 2050. Believing that solar and wind is the magic elixir that will deliver on this expectation is simply ridiculous.

Managing base and intermittent electricity load? I understand Ontario system operators are forced to consume the energy generated when the wind blows, even if it is not needed. Purchasing excess wind energy without a corresponding demand places significant pressure on the grid and the relief valve is to dump excess electricity to other jurisdictions, sometimes at a significant loss. There was a story in the Globe last year that on a windy day in March 2015, Ontario’s grid wasn’t able to balance the base capacity with an over capacity of wind and as such lost $13 million in one day due to dumping. Without significant advancements in electricity storage, how do we balance intermittent and base load efficiently? MIT Study on Germany’s Base Load Balance Challenge

What is the ratio of wind energy capacity/generation to the actual consumption of wind energy? You see headlines and memes that boast that “40% of Spain’s energy generation was produced by solar and wind yesterday”, but our ability to actually consume that energy is substantially less. Why is that?

There are ~ 1000 wind turbines in Alberta, generating 3% of Alberta’s energy capacity. Yet somehow Notley’s government boldly states there will be no coal generation in Alberta in 13 years. I have been closely watching the governments Climate Leadership rollout and I have yet to see any empirical evidence on how this can be accomplished?

Efficiently and consistently supplying the energy grid with a spaghetti network of 1,000s of windfarms vs large optimized power plants? Large power plants traditionally are in close proximity to centers of large energy consumption. With the anticipated proliferation of windfarms, what is the impact of getting that energy from this spaghetti network to the grid?

The primary reason wind and solar costs have decreased is because the raw materials are now sourced in China. Does anyone feel that increasing mining operations in China is good for the environment?

Our energy consumption expectations are centered around; reliability, affordability, abundance and as-needed access. Wind turbines can’t compete on an energy wholesale market without government subsidies. The UK, Spain, and the godfather of renewable transition Germany have all clawed back on renewable energy subsidies. The result is many are going bankrupt and there is a prevalence of energy poverty. How do we develop a renewables energy infrastructure without government subsidies? When turbine companies go bankrupt, who remediates the turbines when they no longer produce? Germany’s Base/Intermittent load balance is failing – The Economist

The emittance of low-frequency inaudible sound from windfarms has resulted in an increase in sickness and Wind Turbine Syndrome for those in close proximity. It also impacts animals, birds and soil ecology (worms are important). This has lead to a global NIMBY movement against wind turbines. If we are going to be 100% renewable by 2050, where will the turbines go? Will solar & biomass farms take over food farms?

There is no such thing as a 0 impact energy source. The manufacturing of industrial wind turbines and solar panels and the subsequent energy generated from wind farms are substantially impactful to the environment and to peoples health. This is indisputable, just ask the people of the Huron corridor and Port Elgin region of Ontario.

There is no compound on earth that has more profoundly improved the quality of human life than fossil fuels. The mass movement to demonize fossil fuels and characterizing CO2 as poison or pollution is dangerous. Denying people access to cheap plentiful energy will harm the most vulnerable in a far greater magnitude than any increase the trace gas CO2 ever will.

Mark Gaudet