September 1, 2002
The Lethbridge Herald
Not so Windy
Mayor Tarleck's initiative to investigate and influence energy supply in Alberta
is admirable. Energy, and electricity in particular, is of vital interest to
this part of the province.
Unfortunately, the article reporting on his trip to Denmark ("A windy pitch",
Delon Shurtz, August 29) is not consistent with data reported by Denmark's
energy department website. It appears that the author has reported some data on
electricity as energy data.
The article states that Denmark's target is 30% of it's energy from alternate
sources. Denmark's "Energy Policy Review 2001" indicates it's goal is to produce
1/3 of it's electricity from renewable sources by 2005. That is a big
difference. Denmark's total energy consumption in 2000 was 840 PJ. Electricity
provided 125 PJ.
The article notes Denmark has 5000 wind turbines producing about 15% of all
energy. The Danish website indicates 6200 wind turbines in 2000. They produced
about 13% of Denmark's electricity. Renewables provided about 4% of total energy
including wind turbines at about 2%. Confusion reigns supreme between energy and
The article indicates that less than 1% of Alberta's energy comes from alternate
or sustainable sources. Canada's Energy Outlook 2020 indicates Alberta consumed
1530PJ of energy in 2000 including 131PJ of electricity. The Canadian
Electricity Association indicates that Alberta derives about 3.8% of its
electricity from hydro and 2.7% from "other" which includes wind and waste wood
biomaterials. These statistics suggest that hydro and other sustainable energy
sources together do indeed account for about 1% of Alberta's energy.
It appears that Mayor Tarleck's goal proposes that we catch up to Denmark's 4%
of energy from renewable sources by achieving 3%. That is a tough enough goal in
itself. The Herald has inadvertently and incorrectly suggested it may be easy by
mistakenly suggesting Denmark is aiming to derive 30% of it's energy from
alternate sources. There is a big difference between 30% of energy and 30% of
electricity. The difference in Alberta is tens of thousands of wind turbines and
the alternate systems to back them up when it's not so windy.