Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In Quebec, Wind Turbines Bleed Off Money...$2.38 per Spin!

Driving home from New York, just after the border entering Quebec, I saw a  couple of wind turbines turning lazily off in the distance, which of course got me thinking just how much these darn things are costing taxpayers.

I was a bit surprised at the low speed at which they turned, I never saw one in real life before and imagined that they whipped around furiously, like a fan attached to a childhood bicycle

Now we all know that wind energy projects aren't economic, especially in Quebec where electricity generated by hydro-power is about 70% cheaper than that produced by these wind turbines but for political reasons this province has actually mothballed fully functioning hydro-electric power plants, while increasing the number of wind farms.

One only has to look at the map of where these projects are built to understand that the whole thing is a wasteful attempt to bring jobs to economically depressed regions, where more than half of the wind farms are located in Quebec's economic basket case of the Gaspé, a region that contains less than 1% of Quebec's population. Yup...less than 1%.

It's a case of politicians just not caring or understanding reality about the waste of money that this so-called green industry actually costs the rest of Quebec taxpayers.

The blindness afflicts both the PQ and the Liberals equally, the latter which could have taken the decision to shut down the boondoggle completely in the face of stark economic reality.

While the Couillard government is talking about cuts everywhere, wind generation seems to be a sacred cow, probably because it is not the government which subsidizes the wasteful projects directly, but rather ratepayers through inflated electricity bills.

Given the new realities of the electricity markets, where demand is down as well as the price, all due to conservation and to America's exploitation of shale gas, Quebec hasn't re-evaluated it's energy policy, living in a fantasy world  conceived in the eighties where demand and prices were going up.

At any rate it's hard to wrap our heads around huge numbers like billions, for most of us, anything past the cost of an expensive home is too hard to contemplate.

A 100 million dollars has about as much impact to our understanding as a billion dollars or even a trillion dollars, it just doesn't register.
So let me deconstruct Quebec's wasteful wind energy policy to something we can understand.

There are about 1,000 wind turbines already operating in Quebec. More are scheduled to be built, but let's restrict our discussion to the present.

After a bit of research I found out that each one of those turbines, (without down time) spins approximately 12 times per minute which multiplied by hours and days comes out to about   630,000  times per year.

Multiply 1,000 turbines spinning at 630,000 spins per years = 630,000,000 .
That's a big number, 630 million spins per year, but let's break it down.

The total Quebec taxpayer subsidy for wind power is estimated at $1,500,000,000 (1.5 billion,) although it is probably much higher.

Now $1.5 billion divided by 630 million spins = $2.38 per spin.

That's right, every single time a Quebec wind turbine spins once, it cost taxpayers $2.38


  1. Wondering if Marois election promises of money to an unnecessary cement plant, a wealthy shoe manufacturer and a third one I can't remember, actually went through or could be cancelled by the Libs??

    1. You're right Ardyth - more money down the sewer - let's hope they are on the "hit" list.

    2. Yes, the unnecessary cement plant is going ahead.

    3. The unnecessary cement plant has been put on hold.

  2. And the separatists wonder why people would not support leaving Canada. It's because most of us are not ignorant, we do read newspapers and we realize when idiotic decisions are made by our governments. The decision to try and use wind power, which was a total failure and expensive mistake made in Ontario long before quebec decided to get involved, was made and supported by all the provincial parties in quebec even after knowing what a disaster it was in Ontario. As contra would say, "and you want to make a country out of this?" Lord, give us a break and stop all this waste of our taxpayer money! There is so much waste here and this is just another example. I would love to have some say (other than a vote) in what programs this province should cut - this would also top the list along with "language" police, IF and SJBS society. Leave our healthcare alone and for God's sake, stop re-writing our history books to suit the separatist language nazi's!

  3. Very interesting analysis... I'd be interested however if hard-fact posts like this one were fitted with hyperlinks to some research or sources. For instance, where does the 15 billion figure come from? Does this take into account possible economic fallouts from their construction, or developing expertise in the Gaspé region?

  4. UN GARS BRIEN SYMPATHIQUE DE FRANKFORTWednesday, May 21, 2014 at 12:14:00 PM EDT

    Please quebekistan go bankrupt.

  5. Editor,

    Your cost analysis on the wind turbine based on the revolution of the turbine is manipulative, at best. Those turbines are high-torque turbines. They do not need to turn at high angular speed. Indeed, they are designed that way so that they can turn more silently. If you want to be honest and more credible, calculate the cost based on the output of the turbines. Fast or slow, the metric that should be considered from a power generator is the power generated.

    In technical and financial terms, I have to say that this post is by far the most misleading and irrelevant of your recent posts. Too bad as the message is actually good, that the wind turbines are waste of money, but wrapped in such weak and nonsense argument.

    1. So according to you, if the turbines spun twice as fast, we'd lose less on each spin.
      Troy....with logic like that, you should work for the government.

    2. Mr. Berlach,

      With my logic, there is no correlation whatsoever between the angular speed of the turbines and the cost of power generation. Your putting those two variables and trying to find the connection between them is deceptive as they together do not mean a thing.

      Your writing that "...according to [me], if the turbines spun twice as fast, we'd lose less on each spin." is really putting words on my fingers and for once I have to say that it is unbecoming of you to do so.

      Bottom line, if what you want to highlight is how wasteful the wind farms are - an argument that I am in fact in agreement - the average angular speed of the turbines is one irrelevant piece of datum.

    3. As Troy is saying the post would have been much more interesting if the math was taken two steps further, 1. Calculating the average power generation of each turn, and 2. Multiply by the price of each unit of power generated.

      Saying how much a turn costs tells us nothing, each turn could create 10 watts of power or 1000 Giga watts, we have no idea, based on that the $2.38 could either be well worth the cost for the power generated or a complete waste. It's like saying at a mine each pound of extracted material costs $2.38 to extract, is it worth it? Depends on what the material extracted is, if it's gold yes, if it's just dirt no, it is not.

    4. FATAL FLAWS, of which there are quite a few, apply to many of the "new" renewables...lack of density means they are big consumers of finite resources throughout their relatively short lifespans and have an inordinately large spatial footprint. The problem of wind(and solar) goes beyond a free "fuel" which is costly to put to use, it is intermittent, variable, and unpredictable so is more like trying to use dirty gasoline because it is being given away.

      The flaw which is most relevant to the discussion of cost per unit is that the performance curve for wind does not peak conveniently in sync with the demand curve(the ability to whistle up a wind has not yet been perfected) so the rate and/or taxpayer is being asked to pay for power when it is largely unneeded.

      Quebec may have better inter-ties and export agreements but the Ontario grid is in a major SNAFU due largely to a government which opted for the "green" ideology and introduced the "Green" Energy and Economy Acts completely without proper cost/benefit analysis ...the abandonment of best business practices is a precondition for this form of economic suicide and it occurs everywhere the political agenda shifts to de-industrialization and wealth redistribution. It can be readily observed that this is not about saving the planet once it is understood that wind can never stand alone , it is NOT an ALTERNATIVE and is in practice parasitic on the grid,

      Very telling is the practice of preying on poorer communities and despoiling valuable ecosystems and who stop to admire Canada's great freshwater treasure, Lake Superior, and are shown the proposed industrial wind turbine invasion mapped out for the Algoma region, are gob-smacked, they can not conceive of a government willing to degrade the wilderness allure of an iconic forest/wetland ecosystem in an area where the wilderness allure is the foundation for sustainable tourism.

      Though approached in this viddeo from an American point of view the template is being used globally. Agenda 21 Explained

  6. UN GARS BIEN SYMPATHIQUE DE FRANKFORTWednesday, May 21, 2014 at 5:44:00 PM EDT

    From the Couillard gov't earlier today" Less spending & stimulate the economy".
    Austerity and reforms are also part of the next four years for quebec.
    In the end it won't be enough. quebekistan is done. Greece of America. Ontario ain't doing any better, to be fair.
    Can't wait for big unions and students to take to the street and make morons of themselves...

  7. Not only is this expensive boondoggle being used as a way to garner votes, it’s also a good place to fob off your defeated candidates, since these corporate welfare recipients recruit from the PQ’s former political staff. Oh look! Defeated PQ candidate Thierry St. Cyr just found a new job at windmill manufacturer RER Hydro, probably as a result of the experience he gained from dabbling as a real-estate estate agent, which is what he had been doing since being booted out of Jeanne-Leber riding in 2011 and being defeated in Verdun in 2012.

  8. Fracking is so much better. You can externalize the environmental rehabilitation costs to the schmucks inhabiting nearby the fracking site. Let them deal with carcinogenic drinking water and earthquakes. Unless, of course, investors frack in their own backyard.

  9. A segment on today’s episode of the CBC Radio One show “The Current” with Anna Maria Tremonti:
    Should Quebec have its own sports teams?
    “An organization called the Fondation Équipe-Québec is advocating for separate teams to represent the province at athletic competitions. But critics are saying this is a divisive move that would politicize sports.”

    Sirois keeps referring to non-sovereign nations such as Greenland and Scotland as being somehow equivalent to Quebec. However, no one ever pointed out to him that both of those are in fact long-time autonomous countries that are part of the Kingdoms of Denmark and the United Kingdom, respectively.

    He also mentions National Olympic Committees such as Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and Guam in participating in the London Olympics. The former is a city-state which is a special administrative region and the latter two are unincorporated territories of the United States… completely different from Quebec, which has always been a full-fledged province of Canada ever since the beginning of Canadian Confederation.

    He also states with a straight face that his idea has no relation to the Quebec sovereignty movement. So I guess he means we can all look forward to international competitions hosted by the nations of Ontario, Alberta, California, Texas…

    1. Do a check of the sort of people behind this organization.
      Visit the Quebec Register of enterprises and click the Find an enterprise button at the right hand side of the page.

      Type Fondation Équipe Québec in the search field and you'll find out the following stellar officers:
      - Robert Bob Sirois
      - Pierre Cloutier
      - André Matteau
      - Pierre Drolet-Massue

      Reading the Facebook page reveals an unsurprising smattering of frustrated, slightly older, largely white and ethnically homogeneous separatists with an obvious axe to grind.

      Documented cross-pollination with such groups as the MNQ and the SSJB equally unsurprising.

      Noticing a demographic and organizational pattern here?

    2. And while some in this lovely province ascertain quebec should have their own "sport's teams" to further express their rejection of Canada and arrogantly flexing their sovereign-ist muscle despite their feeble showing at the last election, others feel that quebecers need an attitude adjustment PRONTO!

      I admire Maxime Bernier for speaking the truth. Hopefully it keeps getting easier and easier to tell the truth in this province, more importantly, compel people to do the right thing in this province because the truth can no longer be ignored.

    3. So what you're saying is that it's unlikely they would ask Scotty Bowman to run the hockey team...

    4. The mention of territories like Guam, Hong Kong and Puerto Rico is really a pipe dream. Those jurisdictions were already members before IOC defined its rules about NOC members. Since 1996, no jurisdiction can be member without first being admitted as a member of the UN.

      Quick Wikipedia search gives that fact away. If those people are athletes, they should have known this.

    5. @ Jay: I wouldn't be surprised if this crew of morons refused to ask Scotty Bowman to run their "Quebec hockey team"; they'd be snubbing a man universally renowned as a hockey genius -- and who is fluently bilingual. Maybe they'd reject Bowman because he doesn't operate in French only. What was he thinking, working in St. Louis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago ...?

  10. Want to know what it’s like to feel having the world laughing at you? (*cough*Pastagate*cough*)

    How about being arrested for having made a “Happy” video in Tehran?

  11. You might want to check out the three turbines from Europe that were in the news last week. At a cost of $170,000 they only produce $6.00 worth of power in NINE years. They're now being dismantled and taken down.

    In the States, some areas are now suing wind companies under something called the "False Claims Act" because the power produced by these useless machines is no where near what the wind industry promised.

    When it comes to "green" energy, the only green about industrial wind turbines is the money going into rich fat corporations, readily handed over by really stupid gullible politicians.

    1. Absolutely Correct. The British Army Corps of
      Engineers did a study on Wind Power many years ago and reported that it was actually one of the costly and inefficient methods of generating electricity.

      All sounds really good until you check the actual operations and economics of the wind farms.

  12. Ok, I am not a fan but the HABS played really well tonight. Aggressive and fore checks well executed. The kid from Sk Played extremely well.. I doubt they will win the series with the Rangers but they have made it interesting at least.

    Good Game to watch and I am glad they won as they deserved it.

    OK pussy, no BS from you about chips on my shoulder. :)

    1. OK! You were a good sport today. As we should always be... Cheers!

  13. #NHLPlayoff #TrustInDustin #GoHabsGo

    GO HABS GO!!

    However, the ghost of Bob Gainey is still haunting. One of the Rangers' best players is Ryan McDonagh. He was drafted by the Canadiens in 2007. In all his wisdom, Bob Gainey traded his rights in exchange of... Scott Gomez. Now we all know how the Scott Gomez Montreal story ends.

  14. It's a nice article on wind energy. The data collected by you is just superb. It seems that the author has done hard work before writing this blog post.

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