A 30 000 MW Wind Farm in Canada ?  

Posted by Big Gav

WorldChanging has an article on a plan to build a 30 GW wind farm in Canada - which is the sort of thing we need to see more of. Will the Canadians soon be the major suppliers of oil, uranium and electricity to the US ? If they aren't careful they'll end up on some sort of Axis of Evil list...

Gilbert Parent, recently retired from political life in Canada, has proposed building a 30 GW wind farm in the country's northern regions. That's roughly the current power generation capacity of Ontario (home to about 40% of Canada's population of 32 million).

Although Canada has benefited from abundant hydroelectric resources, it is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels and nuclear energy for electricity generation. And yet it has many areas with respectable wind velocities, as shown in Canada's Wind Atlas.

As with Germany and Denmark, the potential exists to meet a large proportion of energy needs from wind power, and to serve as a positive example to others by scaling up wind farms. Of course, small-scale and community-owned wind projects may be just as important as megaprojects in the future smart grid energy mix, particularly in developing solutions suitable for use in isolated places and harsh climates such as circumpolar Arctic regions. But there's nothing like some good old-fashioned macro-engineering to fire up the imagination, especially when it's clean and green.



Continuing on matters atmospheric, RealClimate looks at a Q&A on global warming in the Seattle Times.
There was an interesting piece that appeared in the October 12 edition of the Seattle Times, "Q&A: Global warming — a world of evidence". This follows up on a previous article by journalist Sandi Doughton in the October 9 issue of the Times, "The Truth About Global Warming".

In the Q&A, a group of University of Washington scientists, including atmospheric scientist and climate researcher J. Mike Wallace, weigh in with answers to questions fielded from the paper's readers. Many of the questions, such as "Isn't it true that scientists in the 1970s said the earth was cooling?" are quite similar to those we've addressed here at RealClimate (see "The Global Cooling Myth").

Wallace's perspectives are particularly interesting because he is both a highly respected climate researcher (and National Academy of Sciences member) and, like a number of other long-time researchers in the field, was once a "skeptic" (in the best sense of the word) regarding the evidence for anthropogenic climate change. However, like many other such researchers, he has become convinced by the compelling weight of evidence indicating human influence on climate that has unfolded over the past decade, remarking that "with each passing year the evidence has gotten stronger — and is getting stronger still."

Back at WorldChanging, they note that as climate modelling improves in precision and maturity, things are looking worse rather than better.
A new set of model results from Purdue University give us a foreshadowing of what the effects of global warming-induced climate disruption will be on the nation that currently puts the most greenhouse gases into the air: the United States.

In an article to be published later this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, geophysicist Noah Diffenbaugh and colleagues Jeremy S. Pal, Robert J. Trapp and Filippo Giorgi discuss the results of a five-month supercomputer simulation of global warming across North America over this century. This simulation exercise ranks as one of the most sophisticated ever run; the model was able to consider effects on individual regions 25 kilometers square, down from 50 square kilometers used in previous models.

It's something of an article of faith among the remaining holdouts denying the existence of global warming that computerized climate models, as they abstract aspects of the climate, are essentially useless -- and (implicitly) if they had more details, they'd show that all was right with the world. Unfortunately, as our modeling methods and technologies have gotten better, quite the opposite has occurred. These days, reports from computer models are apt to show that things are worse than we thought, climate-wise.

Climate news is all the rage at WorldChanging this week - they also have a short note on an ABC radio show on "Australian Business and Climate Change".
ABC's running a pretty good radio bit on climate change and how Australia's businesses are grappling with its impacts. It's not as wide-ranging as Businesses Take on Climate Change or some of our other previous coverage on business and global warming, for that matter, but it's still a really good round-up on the issue. If you're following the ways in which the business repsonse to climate is unfolding, this is well worth your time:

"In what to me is an astonishingly short time, five years or less, climate change has morphed from what was seen to be the province of pointy-headed scientists and environmental Cassandras to the point where ... in the Carbon Disclosure Project we have over $21 trillion worth of investors at least paying lip service to being concerned about the phenomenon..."

One last post from WorldChanging, this time on African efforts to adapt their farming practices to cope with global warming and soil erosion.
It reads like a story from decades past: experts are trying to get African farmers to change their farming practices. But this time, the experts are also from Africa, and the modest changes they suggest are to encourage the conservation of quality soil and water. But while the changes may be modest, they hint at a much more dramatic question: how long can traditional farming methods withstand an era of climate disruption?

The African Conservation Tillage Network, based in Zimbabwe, is assembling a manual on "conservation agriculture," a set of agricultural practices based on the specific needs of farmers in Africa, intended to reduce erosion and to save water. ACTN has pilot projects underway in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia, all trying to implement conservation and sustainability-focused agricultural practices. In each location, the overall model of "conservation tillage" is adapted to particular regional needs. The manual, which is still in preparation, provides an overview of the desired practices...

Finally, MIT Technology Review has a look at the latest advances in polymer photovoltaics (which WorldChanging has posted on frequently, but its nice to have some diversity in commentary).
Plastic solar cells can't yet compete with conventional silicon photovoltaics for efficiently producing large-scale power. But they've become good enough that at least one company, Lowell, MA-based Konarka, has moved past the proof-of-concept phase and is putting them into products.

The Army, Air Force, and Textronics, a company based in Wilmington, DE, are now incorporating Konarka's cells into the structures of tents for powering computers and the fabric of handbags for charging cell-phone and laptop batteries.

Konarka's solar cells are printed or coated on rolls of plastic -- much like photographic film. Tiny particles embedded in the film then absorb light and spit out electrons, which are transported by an electrolyte and harvested by electrodes.

So far, the company has demonstrated that its cells can charge cell-phone batteries, extending talking time, or even eliminating the need to plug into an outlet -- assuming one lives somewhere like Phoenix and isn't addicted to the device.

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