Quebec announced one wind power project and cancelled another because of citizen protest the week before last. The timid step forward is part of a plan announced last year to add wind turbine production to Quebec’s electric generating capacity which now is based largely on hydroelectricity. At the same time, The New York Times is reporting that China is going into wind power in a big way—and making sure that outsiders don’t get too much of the action by setting standards that are hard for foreigners to meet.
Then there’s the case of Germany, which is now producing so much wind power that it has begun to shut down thermal plants because their production is no longer needed. The result of more than 15 years of positive incentives and legal requirements, the German wind power industry is an example for the rest of the world, Le Devoir’s environment report Louis-Gilles Francoeur suggests.
But citizen concern in North America about the health effects of wind power are mounting. A group of researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario began surveying residents of nearby Wolf Island last year about their health, and plan on continuing the survey as a wind farm is put into operation and afterwards. While big questions can be asked about the validity of a survey where the participants aren’t chosen at random, but self-report, the very fact that it is getting media attention says something about the contradictions of our current energy situation.
The fact is that people want electricity and they want to run motor vehicles. What they don’t want to do is think about where the energy is going to come from, and when they are forced to do so, their gut reaction is to say no, not in my backyard.
But unless we do some drastic cutting in our energy consumption, our best case scenario—not our worst—involves high wind mill towers dotting the land. The Germans are even proud of theirs, Francoeur reports.