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Wind Energy

Why isn’t there more electricity produced by wind generation in Alberta?

Energy and Wildlife

How has wildlife been affected by energy development in Alberta?

Hydraulic Fracturing

What have natural gas companies been doing to reduce the pollution caused by fracking?

Wind Energy

Why isn’t there more electricity produced by wind generation in Alberta?

Choose a perspective

Introduction

Reviewing the Science
  • Explain the difference between a wind turbine and a wind farm.
  • A wind turbine transforms what form of energy into electrical energy? How is this different from other forms of electricity produced in Alberta?

Challenges

Video Notes
  • No source is perfect
  • Technical Challenges
  • Province is built on traditional sources of energy
  • Alberta has invested billions in coal-fired and natural-gas-fired power plants
  • Huge reserves of fossil fuels
  • Infrastructure and available fuels make it harder to switch to wind
  • Traditional industries employ 100000s of Albertans
  • Wind fluctuates (too little or too much) – consistency is an issue
  • Cannot rely entirely on wind power
  • Need electricity in urban centres, so would need a lot of new infrastructure to bring wind power from rural areas (transmission)
  • Environmental Challenges
  • Landscape visual impact of wind farms
  • Turbine blades can harm birds and bats
  • Necessary roads, transmission lines, and substations add to landscape footprint
  • People who live near wind farms complain about noise
  • Need a lot of turbines to produce enough electricity to make an impact on Alberta’s overall electricity mix

Opportunities

Video Notes 
  • Environmental Opportunities
  • Completely sustainable (can’t run out of wind)
  • Reduce global warming by reducing reliance on fossil fuels
  • No fuel extraction or combustion
  • Quickly makes up for emissions involved in turbine construction
  • Each turbine can produce electricity for 20-25 years
  • Consumes no fuel or water
  • Zero emissions or nuclear waste
  • Economic Opportunities
  • Costs money, but once initial investment made, inexpensive electricity for decades
  • Becoming more efficient and less costly
  • Affordable enough to compete with coal and nuclear
  • Help to stabilize electricity costs because wind is always available and free
  • Wind farms are low maintenance and one-at-a-time maintenance, so no shut-down (off-grid) time
  • Technology development of wind farms will create jobs in construction, maintenance and technological development
  • Bring economic activity back to rural areas
  • Land-lease income could help sustain rural farms

Student Discussion

Exploring the Issues
  • How do you think the wind power industry will change in the next 10 years?
  • What would help to promote growth in the wind industry?
  • What stakeholder perspectives may have been missing from the discussion in the video? What arguments do you think these stakeholders might include to reinforce their perspective?
  • What kinds of jobs/careers do you think are related to wind power generation? Consider every step in the process from assessing a windy site to transmitting the electricity produced.
  • If you were a farmer in Southern Alberta, would you provide some of your land for the development of a wind farm? Why or why not?