Wind power is way of future

January 28, 2008

The six wind turbines officially launched last week near Ravenswood, north of London, come as a surprise to many first-time viewers, who look up in shock or disapproval at their novelty, their height and their massive, mesmerizing blades.

But love them or hate them, they represent the start of a new era in energy generation.

Five years ago, Ontario produced less than 15 megawatts of wind power.

Today, with this 10-megawatt wind farm straddling Highway 21 feeding the grid, this province's wind capacity has surpassed the 500-megawatt mark - enough to power 130,000 homes for a year.

That's still small potatoes compared to a nuclear reactor or a coal-fired power plant like the Lambton Generating Station. But the Ravenswood project is just one of 200 contracts awarded in the past 14 months through Ontario's renewable energy standard offer program. Designed to encourage small, local renewable energy projects, the program is helping the Liberal government fulfill its promise of replacing coal with green energy.

Last week the province took the next step when it announced it was lifting a moratorium on offshore wind farms.

Ontario and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been quietly evaluating offshore wind potential on the Great Lakes over the past year. They've studied wind speeds on Huron, Erie and Ontario and drafted guidance documents to protect birds and bats from offshore turbines.

In other words, every effort is being made to limit any negative impact.

When all is said and done, this is the way of the future. We may not like the appearance of these giant windmills, but we will appreciate the cleaner air that we end up breathing as a result of their presence on our skylines.

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