Choose a Perspective

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

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?

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

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

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?

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