Monday, 17 November 2008

Renewable energy and jobs

I just watched a most interesting Fifth Estate broadcast. It is called The Gospel of Green. There are those who have taken up the torch, but we need someone like Germany's Herman Scheer, to pass it on to our politicians and our local power companies and industries. Ontario needs to manufacture environmentally-friendly goods and create services that will take us into the future. Another soon-to-be-released video, here is the trailer, has clips featured in the aforementioned documentary.

The Fifth Estate speak of the millions of barrels a day that countries use:
  • USA - 20.7 million barrels
  • China - 7.2
  • Japan - 5.2
  • Russia - 2.8
  • Germany - 2.7
  • India - 2.6
Mr. Scheer, a member of German parliament, with 85 million citizens, speaks truth to power - power companies. HThe Solar Economye has taken East Germany's troubled economy, after the wall came down, and turned it around. Scheer's Law, named after himself, is that those generating renewable power must be paid MORE than the going rate for power - to encourage development on renewable power sources. In The Solar Economy, he writes of the possibilities that await this generation for real regeneration of our economy and our renewable energy sources.

In Canada, the powers-that-be continue to set back new developments and charge huge fees for those attempting to connect to Hydro's power grid, and expect them to purchase the equipment to be placed on government land. Yet, the privately owned Bruce Nuclear Power Station in Haldimand-Norfolk region of southern Ontario, is apparently good to go. The solution is not bigger, more powerful and risky project but a series of smaller, independent renewable sources that can support the entire system.

Forward thinking Canadians, in their pursuit of clean energy sources, have only been stymied by Ontario Power Generation, and the old boy's network of power generators, manufacturers or energy and American cars, who insist that nuclear power and oil is the way to go. In Ontario, the Bruce Nuclear Power StationMcGuinty government has committed to phasing out coal-fired generators by 2014. Unfortunately, time is running out and the only immediate answer is nuclear generating stations (like Bruce in the photo) that, inevitably, go over budget, put Ontario more in debt for power, and result in leaving us with storing spent nuclear waste - an insolvable problem.

There are solutions. This documentary speaks of wind, solar and biofuel sources. One company, Arise Technology, travelled to Germany where the Germans gave them 50% of their start up costs ($35 million) and created a plant, with jobs and are building solar panels. Why did we not do that here?

Trillium Wind Power has been trying to establish a wind farm, potentially investing $2.5 billion for a wind farm off the shore of Lake Ontario. All THEY met was opposition from politicians, and entrenched bureaucrats with inertia. They are shallow shores, with a potential 938 watts / sq. m of power, and not on a migration flyway. There are more than 1000 wind power companies world wide, all we need is to buy into this project and create the opportunity. Time is running out. Fossil fuels will run out.

Interviewing George Smitherman, the new energy minister, he stalls and speaks of Ontario power that costs 6 ¢/ KWh, compared to Germany's 23 ¢. He hums and haws around the cost of a new nuclear generating station ($27 billion), which we know will experience cost over runs. This is typical of politicians who can only think in terms of PR moments and 4-year election periods. Those of us who are worried about this issue have been reading and writing about it for 30 years. Elementary teachers, which I used to be, have taught Reduce/Reuse/Recycle to many, many students. But it is time to go further. We need the vision of someone like Herman Scheer to take us into the future.

Jackson's Toyota, in Barrie, ON, is trying to install a wind power station, but the locals are quite opposed. Rodney Jackson's Facebook site reflected their problems. The same is true on the Scarborough Bluffs, which I have blogged about previously. Unless we stand up and make politicians take notice, we are going to burn our way through our non-renewable fuel sources before we are ready to get off grid.

A Swiss farmer, trying to harness his farms waste, and put it back into the grid, is only finding blocks on the part of the bureaucrats. He wants to take a waste product and turn it around to recycle it. What is the hold up? We can move from a dysfunctional agricultural system to one that functions, and adds to our economy, making money for our precious farmers.

We need to encourage fuel-cell-powered vehicles, like the ZENN car - legal to drive in some states, but Ontario sits on its fuel cell, in a puddle of non-renewable oil, while Rome burns. The automotive industry, pleading poverty, still manufactures gas-guzzling vehicles (necessary for some) rather than responding to city folks who could drive a Zero Emission No Noise car and help to save our planet. Until we stand up and say YES in my backyard, we will not make progress. This is the answer to the state of Ontario's economy. We need to be building things that consumer want to buy AND that are good for the environment. We need a hero, like Herman Scheer, to step up in Canada.


Anonymous said...

I saw the CBC program as well and the Trillium Power Wind project was not a $12 million dollar project but a $2.5 BILLION project that would create thousands of manufacturing jobs in the areas of Ontario where we need them. The OPA are looking after themselves and their cushy jobs but as the previous CEO of the OPA, Jan Carr, said they did not care one whit about economic development and probably hindered it because it did not fit their centralized power plan. The OPA has not been helping Ontario workers.

Jenn Jilks said...

Thanks for the correction. I don't know where I got the $!2 million from. But the point is, it adds 2500 new direct and indirect green collar jobs. The OPA is wearing blinders, but the politicians, to whom bureaucrats are accountable, have to toe the party line. Until they get orders to the contrary, we will not move forward. The various Ministers must look towards the future, rather than the next election. They fear change (and risks) and simply want to appear to be doing something, not necessarily the right thing.

Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Jenny Jill,

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and wow, kudos to you for running a high-content blog.


Barbara Martin said...

Have you considered how much this will cost the Canadian government initially? Not to say how much increase the taxpayers will have to pay come tax time.

Jenn Jilks said...

If you compare the costs of a Wind Powered Generator vs. Nuclear generation station? There is no comparison. We are going to dump tax payer bucks at the hands of the big 3 automotive industries - why not put it into renewable energy, private projects and biofuel vehicles?

Trillium is putting private money into the project.
The Barrie Windpower group already produces a ton of waste.
The farmer

We are already in debt at Hydro One! They will need more taxpayer dollars to dump into a new nuclear power station. We need a new vision in Ontario.