Offshore wind makes sense. Far-offshore wind makes even more sense.
Results from existing offshore wind farms and wind data specific to The Great Lakes have continuously confirmed that wind over water is a more powerful and reliable source of energy than wind over land. For the past 17 years Trillium Power has taken action to become the leading developer and proponent of the significant offshore wind opportunities in Ontario and The Great Lakes region.
Offshore/Far-Offshore vs. onshore wind farms
While far-offshore and onshore wind rely on the same input - wind - their performance capabilities are very different. The use of larger turbines in far-offshore wind farms, combined with stronger and more consistent winds over water, results in significantly higher capacity factors, thus more abundant, reliable and economical energy production than can be generated on land.
Offshore wind developments can also be closer to coastal cities thereby simplifying transmission and transportation issues that often create expensive logistical difficulties for onshore wind farms located in remote areas.
Furthermore, far-offshore wind farms sufficiently distant from shore tend not to meet with the same degree of public resistance arising from visual impacts, noise production, shadow casting or removal of land from existing or planned land uses that onshore wind projects typically face.
Trillium Power's first site, 'Trillium Power Wind 1' (TPW1), will be located 17 to 28 km from shore. It won’t be heard and will be virtually invisible from the land thereby avoiding any possible concerns regarding visual aesthetics and potential impacts on property values. It will also be efficiently formatted to minimize any avian impacts and will actually benefit the regeneration of certain species of fish.
Offshore/Far-Offshore wind vs. coal and gas-fired generation
Offshore wind is clearly preferable to coal or gas electricity generation as they both rely on polluting, non-renewable sources of fuel. They emit toxins such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, mercury, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds into the air and place high demands on resources such as freshwater.
Coal has been a major source of electricity in North America for many years and is the worst of the carbon-based options. There are currently 155 coal-fired plants operating in The Great Lakes region that regularly discharge contaminants into poorly-contained holding ponds and nearby waterways. Of the 155 existing plants, 87 exceeded their pollution limits at least once in the past 3 years, some discharging up to 20 times the legal limit according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The high level of carbon pollution from coal has rendered it the baseline against which carbon reduction is measured. Coal generation creates 0.9 kg of carbon per kilowatt hour of electricity produced. This is just one reason that the Government of Ontario is wisely phasing out coal as a source of electricity by 2014.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health "the total cost of damage by coal alone - from mining to burning to waste disposal - approaches $523 Billion per year, which would add as much as 27 cents per kilowatt-hour to coal's cost if plant owners had to pay for the damage, making it far more expensive than wind (Epstein et al. 2011).
A report released in January 2013 by the International Monetary Fund demonstrated that annual global fossil fuel subsidies are at a minimum equivalent to $1.9 Trillion, which is equivalent to 2.5% of global GDP. In addition, if other carbon (CO2) subsidies are included the amount would be $3.5 Trillion or a full 5% of global GDP.
Offshore/Far-Offshore wind vs. nuclear generation
Recent cost estimates by Wall Street, including Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Lazard Ltd., indicate that nuclear power is the most costly of all forms of non-carbon-based sources and more costly than efficiency and energy derived from cogeneration, biomass, geothermal, solar thermal and wind.
Citing excessive costs and the failure of the bidding process to offer up a suitable option, the Ontario government announced in July of 2009 that it would be postponing a $26 billion nuclear expansion project. Fukushima has demonstrated the tremendous risks that are inherent in any nuclear power generation. Nuclear cost overruns, hidden charges, avoided costs (hidden from public view) such as liability for nuclear disasters, non-payment of resource uses (water use and consumption), etc., etc. make any nuclear power generation far too risky for any jurisdiction.
Furthermore, capital cost estimates of nuclear power in Ontario have often been unreasonably low to create the impression that nuclear is less expensive. These efforts have been pure propaganda by the secretive nuclear industry and their apologists and sycophants. The Ontario Power Authority's most recent analysis of the capital cost of a new CANDU 6 reactor (C$2,845/kW) is 30% less than the actual historic capital cost (C$4,085/kW in 1993) of the Darlington nuclear station, Ontario's newest plant. Another complete fabrication of the nuclear industry and their supporters.
When one also considers the escalating cost of uranium, the fact nuclear fission produces highly radioactive waste that requires storage for tens of thousands or millions of of years, that nuclear facilities have higher staff and maintenance costs than other generation sources, wind power is clearly the more viable and environmentally friendly option.
Nuclear power is the most costly, heavily subsidized (UK, US), and shockingly risky form of electricity generation possible. Nuclear operators have twisted any sensible risk/reward model that the general public could intrinsically understand such that all of the profits flow to the operators and any catastrophic risks/costs flow to the citizens of Ontario (or elsewhere where nuclear reactors operate).
Even though it has been 70 years since the nuclear energy industry was started, it continues to receive over 30 different generous subsidies, nearly all of which remain hidden from the public so that the nuclear industry and their supporters can continue to misinform Ontarians that electricity generated from nuclear energy costs less than 10 cents. The ongoing actions of the nuclear energy industry clearly demonstrate that nuclear energy cannot survive without generous taxpayer subsidies, and bailouts, from all Ontarians when there are cost overruns or catastrophic events. According to a US report the nuclear power industry received 96.3% of all subsidies from 1943 until 1999. It is therefore both ironic and hypocritical that the very heavily subsidized nuclear industry complains that renewable energy generators are being subsidized when in fact the exact opposite is true.
Legacy costs alone for older nuclear facilities exceed 7 cents/kWh over and above the 7 cents to 10 cents ratepayers are being informed that they are being charged for power. These costs do not include the cost of the inherent subsidy when nuclear operators are not asked to pay for billions of gallons per day of water that they use (even run-of-river operators pay to 'use' water to generate energy) nor for the insurance premium that they would be required to pay for $250 Billion in catastrophic insurance that would be required for any nuclear reactor 'incident' such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or as recently occurred at the Fukushima reactors.
And unlike nuclear, wind offers a decentralized energy source. One nuclear plant requiring unscheduled maintenance can take 1,200 MW from the grid - an unlikely scenario in the offshore wind model where each turbine generates no more than 5 MW of energy.