The Environmental Review Tribunal continues to grind through its list of anti-wind appeals. On December 5, it rejected an appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for another wind farm, Pattern Energy's South Kent Wind facility, 127 turbines between Tilbury and Ridgetown. In each of the appeals, the opponents have argued that approval of the wind farm will cause serious harm to human health. In each case, the Tribunal has found that this allegation has not been proven.
While the pace of our transition to a lower carbon world can be frustrating, we have learned in a short time at Green Energy Futures there are some pretty inspiring and innovative people building a green energy future right now.
On an average day, about 160-billion tonnes of seawater flows into the Bay of Fundy. This is where an ocean research centre decided to put their tidal energy test site. According to recent models, there is roughly 7,000 megawatts of potentially extractable tidal energy in the Minas Basin. Of that number, researchers say about 2,500 megawatts can be tapped safely. That's more than enough electricity for all of Nova Scotia.
Church Point, a little-known dot on the map in rural southern Nova Scotia, isn't exactly a tourist hotspot. But for sustainability nerds it's an unexpected haven. It's home to St. Anne University, or Université Sante Anne as it's called in French and it may be the greenest little university in Canada.
Walmart is certainly a retailer that evokes many emotions. At the same time, the numbers are undeniable. Worldwide, more than 100,000,000 shoppers per week choose to spend their dollars there. The company could have a major impact on sustainability.
Some corporate sustainability efforts can be fairly easily thrown into the cynical greenwashing file. And Walmart has certainly suffered reputational slings and arrows for many reasons, but when the largest retailer in the world dedicates itself to a serious sustainability agenda we should probably sit up and notice.
Tour the rolling countryside of Nova Scotia in the fall and it's like driving right into a post card. Head west of Truro and not only do you get this scenic drive but you'll find Nuttby Mountain wind farm -- the turbines popping up into view quite unexpectedly. All things being equal would you be more inclined to have a coal-fired power plant in your backyard or a wind turbine that you helped raise the money for?
If Alberta devotes even a portion of the brains, money and time it devoted to turning the oilsands into a useable resource to doing the same with solar, we might be onto something. Alberta has certainly taken a lot of black eyes for the way it develops its non-renewable resources, developing it's other greatest natural resource might be a way to address them.
The slow sway of the oilfield pumpjack, or nodding donkey as some call it, is one of the most familiar sights in Alberta. Drive around long enough and they become just another part of the landscape. But a small, innovative company based in Edmonton, Alberta named Canadian Control Works is re-imagining pumpjacks as green micro-generators.
A pumpjack is like an iceberg. The vast majority of it is hidden, mysterious and out of sight. Underneath the pumpjack there are two to three kilometers of rod string which can weigh between five and 10 tons. Moving that weight requires a lot of electricity. Canadian Control Works is the group behind the Enersaver, a device which generates electricity from otherwise wasted kinetic energy created by the downswing of a pumpjack.
Youtube/ Solon Energy
At a time when jumpstarting a mob is as easy as creating a new Facebook group or signing the latest petition, any disinterest in political activism might seem just careless, apathetic, and even lazy. But the lack of an "off-gridders of the world" organization seems to me to speak to a completely different sense of involvement and an alternative way of doing politics. Our homes -- our grid-connected homes -- are intertwined to one another through extensive lines.
When it comes to solar panel manufacturing the laws of supply and demand may as well be Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Just ask the former president of one of the largest solar photo-voltaic module manufacturers in Canada. He's an affable, friendly guy who got started in the solar industry 24 years ago.
Youtube/ Solon Energy
The billions of dollars that the US sends to Middle Eastern countries to import is a choice. This has led Amory Lovins to state that there's more oil in Detroit than in Saudi Arabia. There's actually no oil in Detroit, but the reluctance of auto executives to pursue higher fuel efficiency standards, imposes billions of dollars of cost on North American companies and car owners.
It might actually be easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than to find investments that not only produce a healthy return but also contribute to a better society. Enter Solar Bonds from SolarShare in Ontario. The investment side is solid. A $1,000 bond has a return of five per cent for five years. The kicker? That money is invested in getting solar energy projects up and running in Ontario.
Heidi Eijgel is an Alberta horse farmer who lives in the last house at the end of a gravel road surrounded by one of the largest wind farms in Alberta -- and she's OK with that. In 2003, the 70 megawatt Summerview wind farm was built adjacent to Eijgel's property. She has been peacefully co-existing with that wind farm since then.
When people hear "green jobs," they think of scientists or environmental organizations. In reality, the green job market has expanded throughout every sector, opening up a wealth of opportunities. In fact, 56 per cent of Canadian teens are interested in careers related to the environment but, just like me a few years ago, they don't know their range of options. That's why I'm excited about the Green Jobs Forum, coming up September 17.