Gilbert Parent, recently retired from political life in Canada, has proposed building a 30 GW wind farm in the country's northern regions. That's roughly the current power generation capacity of Ontario (home to about 40% of Canada's population of 32 million).
Although Canada has benefited from abundant hydroelectric resources, it is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels and nuclear energy for electricity generation. And yet it has many areas with respectable wind velocities, as shown in Canada's Wind Atlas.
As with Germany and Denmark, the potential exists to meet a large proportion of energy needs from wind power, and to serve as a positive example to others by scaling up wind farms. Of course, small-scale and community-owned wind projects may be just as important as megaprojects in the future smart grid energy mix, particularly in developing solutions suitable for use in isolated places and harsh climates such as circumpolar Arctic regions. But there's nothing like some good old-fashioned macro-engineering to fire up the imagination, especially when it's clean and green.
Gilbert Parent has an interesting background, having served in the government of Canada as Speaker for the House of Commons and Ambassador for the Environment. His current focus seems to be mobilizing sufficient support from investors and the public to make this project happen, which will itself be an interesting case study in how to trigger major energy innovations.
I caught up with him recently for a short Q&A:
HM: The 30GW Wind Project seems like a great idea. What do you see as the main hurdles to making this project happen?
GP: The major hurdles are to convince financiers of the viability of a project of this size; to put this idea in the public domain for debate and resolution and to show that the energy created from this project is reliable, economic and above all clean and endlessly renewable.
HM: You were an M.P. and later Speaker of the House of Commons in Canada. How has your background prepared you for your current task?
GP: I was Ambassador for the Environment for four years and I believe that I am not only conversant with the myriad of problems facing us environmentally but also aware of many of the solutions which we have at our disposal.
HM: You could be enjoying a relaxed retirement. What motivates you to push forward with this project?
GP: My personal motivation is quite simple, I want as much as possible, to be part of the solution to our problems environmentally rather than to simply be an ongoing part of our problem.
Great. Soon the Cans will be selling us our oil (from the oil sands) and our electricity.
That's _Mr._ Can please. Heh.
If we could also sell you softwood lumber all would be well ;)
From the referenced press release:
"There are promising energy storage technologies being developed. The generation of hydrogen through electrolysis of water is one of the most convenient ways to store electrons. This process while both simple and effective, generates a product that could become a key energy carrier. It could be widely applied in the coming decades as we endeavour to de-carbonize our sources of energy.
Stored hydrogen is not only a way to adjust to generation times; it can also be used to fuel vehicles and for many other industrial applications. It is an energy currency that is very broad in scope and usage. It can lever wind energy well beyond its present benefits."
Why advocate the "hydrogen economy" when it is more efficient to use surplus nightime electricity to charge car batteries using the existing power grid?
Canada already sells a lot of electricity to the US. A power plant in my province sells electricity directly yo NYC
Car batteries are as a flea fart to what kinds of energy storage are needed for a full scale renewable energy system.
We are talking terawatt hours of energy storage.