Time to get serious about wind power

Time to get serious about wind power A few weeks ago I attended Keith Halliday's talk at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce luncheon and I've been listening to the exchanges on energy in the legislature. It seems to me that we Yukoners are having a crisis of

A few weeks ago I attended Keith Halliday’s talk at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce luncheon and I’ve been listening to the exchanges on energy in the legislature.

It seems to me that we Yukoners are having a crisis of faith.

Scientists all over the world keep warning us that our planet is in trouble because we’re consuming too much fossil fuel.

I believe most Yukoners are concerned too. But many of us are feeling helpless that we can’t do much about it. In the Yukon 80 per cent of our energy comes from fossil fuel. Most of that goes to transportation and then to space heating. The other 20 per cent is from renewable hydroelectricity.

So the Yukon’s challenge is to convert that 80 per cent fossil fuel energy into renewable energy. Tackling this problem seems like a tall order. But it’s a huge economic opportunity.

The building of new hydro is certainly a good idea and in fact it is the anchor of our energy foundation. But hydro requires long lead times to build.

Right now the low hanging fruit of renewable energy in the Yukon is with wind. It’s no secret that wind is the fastest growing source of new energy in the world today. Canada’s installed wind capacity grew by 14 per cent to over 6,500 megawatts in 2012. In the same year the global wind capacity grew by 19 per cent to a total of 282,000 megawatts. Alaska, our neighbour, saw a staggering growth of 80 per cent last year to a new total capacity of 59 megawatts. Wind energy has matured.

In the Yukon there is a vast potential for growth in the wind energy sector. The mountaintop winds follow both the electricity grid demand and the space heating load. And because wind energy is intermittent we need storage capacity to take advantage of it.

Storage already exists with our hydro reservoirs and the diesel fuel that we use on the margin. But there are also storage opportunities with space heating and electric cars.

In space heating there is the electrical thermal storage (ETS) technology which are simply an insulated box with bricks and electric heating elements inside. The ETS can be programmed to recharge at night when grid demand is low or during times of excess wind energy on the grid. Electric cars have batteries which can be programmed to recharge the same way as the ETS. To make all this work will require us to smarten up our electricity grid and to apply financial incentives to make these devices attractive to homeowners.

The fuel from wind and hydro is free. The economic and environmental costs of fossil fuel will only go up.

The mines simply provide us with an economic bridge to a renewable energy future.

JP Pinard

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 27, 2020

Premier Sandy Silver during a live update on the COVID-19 situation at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 27. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Total Yukon COVID case count increased to 42 cases

Premier urges patience after national meeting on vaccine roll-out

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Most Read