Site C Dam: John Horgan's neoliberal ball and chain

24 posts / 0 new
Last post
indigo 007 indigo 007's picture
Site C Dam: John Horgan's neoliberal ball and chain
Pogo Pogo's picture

It has been asked elsewhere but I haven't seen an answer.  The Leap Manifesto calls for a move to 100% renewable energy. Is this all coming from solar and windmills. If we don't take drastic steps to reduce our consumption (my choice) then we will need hydro electric power. And if we need more hydro electric where does it come from?

The Leap Manifesto calls for more local control of energy projects, but what does that mean for mega projects like Site C?

Rev Pesky

The support document for the Leap Manifesto calls for 270 1300MW hydro power dams. As noted above, where do people think they're going to put them? 

One also has t0 be very clear that the electricity from a hydro dam is completely different than electricity from either wind or solar. Wind and solar deliver power on an intermittent basis, requiring expensive, and usually fossil-fuel, back-ups. Hydro delivers power when the user wants it.

Think of all the electrical devices that operate on automatic controls; heating, cooling, etc. Hydro power can accomodate those devices. Wind and solar cannot. So unless we're willing to give up electrical power on demand, it's either fossil-fuel, nuclear or hydro. Your choice. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
As noted above, where do people think they're going to put them?

As noted in every discussion of Site C, Not In My Back Yard.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Rev Pesky wrote:

Think of all the electrical devices that operate on automatic controls; heating, cooling, etc. Hydro power can accomodate those devices. Wind and solar cannot. So unless we're willing to give up electrical power on demand, it's either fossil-fuel, nuclear or hydro. Your choice. 

I know you've condemned battery storage before as brown technology, but it does present a practical alternative to your list of choices.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:

Musk promised to build the 100-megawatt battery within 100 days of the contracts being signed at the end of September or the company would hand it over to the South Australia state government for free.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill announced that the battery began dispatching power into the state grid Thursday afternoon, providing 70 megawatts as temperatures topped 86 degrees.

So on it's first day, it was already only at 70% capacity?  And what if Mr. Musk doesn't build such a battery (and, surely, FUND such a battery) in B.C.?

It's nice to know that the technology exists.  But are you sure it's a "practical" alternative?  As in, literally costing less and suchlike?

Quote:
The cost of the battery has not been made public.

Mighty Middle

Horgan should of just cancelled Site C.

Ontario Liberals cancelled those gas plants and the cost is 1.5 BILLION dollars down the drain. At the end of the day it didn't affect them getting reelected.

jas

1. The BC NDP does not subscribe to the Leap Manifesto. So, moot point.

2. If the Leap Manifesto is calling for increased hydro power in the form of mega-dams, then it should be a suspect document anyway, as prevailing expert opinion on energy matters is that mega-hydro has had its day and is no longer competitive with the alternatives. This is also the conclusion the BCUC arrived at.

3. Battery storage power will only improve,  just as solar has done and, I might add, in leaps and bounds over the last 10 years.

If alternatives already make hydro mega-dams costly and inefficient, how much more so in the decades to come? How about in 70 years? I repeat: Site C will not pay for itself for its first 70 years of production. What private company would invest in such folly?

jas

This thread also contains Site C post-decision discussion and has some useful links.

http://rabble.ca/babble/alberta-and-british-columbia/site-c-how-much-sup...

voice of the damned

Jas wrote:

1. The BC NDP does not subscribe to the Leap Manifesto. So, moot point.

Have they actively made statements against it, or is it just that they haven't said anything either way?

I'm asking because I think there's a background assumption in these discussions that the BC NDP(unlike their counterparts in Alberta) subscribe to the general spirit of the Leap Manifesto. At the very least, I would think that most people who believe Horgan has a "mandate" to cancel Site C, would not expect him to justify a reversal by saying Leap is all garbage anyway.

But if the BC NDP's official position is that Leap is bad policy, well, that is interesting. Can't say I've seen anything on these boards mentioning that.

Rev Pesky

From an article posted by Mr. Magoo:

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill announced that the battery began dispatching power into the state grid Thursday afternoon, providing 70 megawatts as temperatures topped 86 degrees.

To put this into perspective, according to BC Hydro, demand for electricity in BC between the hours of 5:00 - 6:00 pm on January 3rd 2017 peaked at 10,126 MW.  That is 1oo times the output capacity of the battery in South Australia.

But BC is only a small consumer of electricity. Texas, for instance, back in 2016 had a peak demand of 70,000 MW. That is 700 times the capacity of the South Australian battery.

From jas:

If alternatives already make hydro mega-dams costly and inefficient, how much more so in the decades to come?

Alternative power generation has no effect on the efficiency of any particular type of generation. There may be some sources that are very efficient, and others that are not, but having a generation source that is 100% efficient has no effect on another source that is 40% efficient. I'll just remind that wind and solar outputs are variable, regardless of how efficient they are.

Here's a statement on the relative efficiency of hydro and wind:

Hydro turbines, the oldest and the most commonly used renewable energy source, have the highest efficient of all power conversion process. The potential head of water is available right next to the turbine, so there are no energy conversion losses, only the mechanical and copper losses in the turbine and generator and the tail end loss. The efficiency is in the range of 85 to 90 %.

Wind turbines have an overall conversion efficiency of 30 % to 45 %.

This is being quite generous to wind generation. In other comparisons I have seen wind is generally given as 30% efficient.

In other words, to get the same level of power from wind generation as from hydro, one would have to install 3 times the generation capacity. But that would still leave you with a fluctuating output, for which you would then have to create some method of storage to allow for making the output more constant.

Wind generation as well has a lifetime of roughly 25 years, compared to the 100 years of hydro dams. While replacement cost of wind generators wouldn't be as  high as initial cost (foundation still in place, etc) if wind 'availability' changes over time, you may have to move the wind generators to a new region. 

The primary reason to use wind generation for electricity is to reduce CO2 emissions, but that is not a problem with hydro. 

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Rev, if your point is that hydro is about the best form of energy generation we have, and that we should prefer it to any alternative if it is available, then I find it hard to disagree. But there are environmental and ecological considerations which limit the amount of hydro available. The real question is what to use for the portion of our needs that hydro can't provide. There are strong arguments for and against nuclear, but we in Ontario are very dependent on it.

A utility bill I received this week serendipitously included a breakdown of electrical energy sources in Ontario for 2016:

  • Nuclear: 58.5%
  • Hydro: 23.3%
  • Renewable: 9.5%
  • Natural Gas: 8.2%

If it were possible to get a lot more hydro economically in Ontario, I bet we'd be doing it by now.

Rev Pesky

From Michael Moriarity:

The real question is what to use for the portion of our needs that hydro can't provide.

Well, we are blessed here in BC with plenty of hydro generation. I don't really know anything about the possibilities for hydro in Ontario, although I presume that option has been studied enough to know that it won't work for Ontario. So if you want to cut CO2 emissions, that means wind, solar or nuclear.

One of the things I do know, is that much of the demand for electricity is tied to sensors of one type or another. Elsewhere I mentioned heating, refrigeration and air conditioning, and I'm sure there are many more. Those devices present the most serious problem because they require electricity when their sensors tell them they need it.

Imagine an elevator say, when the electricity runs out, and just happens to be between floors.

I wouldn't have said this when I was younger, but I now believe that nuclear is the best option after hydro. The efficiency of nuclear generation is very high, 90%+, and of course the output is non-fluctuating.

I know it's expensive, , but when people start adding up the cost of storage to wind and solar, their prices will rise. And who knows by how much. As noted by Mr. Magoo, no one is talking about what that battery in South Australia cost, and of course it really doesn't supply much. A 100MW battery, compared to actual consumption, is nothing.

Another possible option would be to use wind power, not to generate electricity, but to pump water. If one could pump water uphill to a lake of some sort, then let that water run down through penstocks, presumably you could run hydro type turbines, and the storage would be the water in the lake. I don't know the feasibility of this, nor what sort of place one could make it work. I guess you'd have to have a water supply, a water storage area, and the different levels required to get the water moving.

Overall, the biggest single issue is the fluctuating output of wind or solar. Dealing with those fluctuations create a serious problem for grid operators, and in many place they use fossil-fuelled back-ups to even out the supply. And in some cases they keep the fires burning, so to speak, because they may need the generating capacity in a hurry. Given that reduction of CO2 emissions is the primary goal, having a natural gas generator 'idling' greatly increases the CO2 output of wind or solar generation.

It's also true that there's no such thing as electical generation that doesn't disturb the environment. Wind generators require concrete bases, roads for servicing, etc. To get an equivalent amount of electricity from wind generation (as Site C) would affect a much larger area than Site C will. And you're still  stuck with the unstable ouput.

In any case. I think everyone should keep in their mind the reason for 'alternative' forms of electrical generation. That is, the reduction of CO2 emissions. If one keeps that front and centre, it makes the options clearer.

mark_alfred

In this interview Jagmeet Singh expresses his disagreement with Horgan's Site C decision:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZASvP8aqH4

NDPP

Andrew Frank: 'Heavy-Hearted' Colonizers - BC NDP [No Difference Party] Tries To Share Site C Victims' Grief While Simultaneously Causing It

http://ow.ly/bBt330hsKP0

"As political scientist, David Moscrop said on Twitter in reaction to the decision to proceed with Site C, 'If you're in favour of Site C, then you think it's more important than Indigenous rights in that case. Premier Horgan himself saw the logical end of that coming. You have to wear that.'

The trouble is Horgan and his party don't want to wear it. Instead, they want you to know that they feel your pain, even though they are the ones causing it. The promise is to stop inflicting that pain soon, but not just yet. They are 'heavy-hearted' colonizers! Site C is the first and most important test of Mr Horgan's government's commitment to respecting Indigenous rights, and so far it is failing spectacularly.

Fortunately, we are not yet past the point of no return, and there is still time to do the right thing by cancelling the project in the New Year. What better place to begin a good faith effort at reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, then in the scars of a partially completed colonial hydro-electric megaproject?

Cancellation of the Site C Dam would be a powerful gesture that would require actual sacrifice by the non-Indigenous of our province, a sacrifice that is long overdue."

premier@gov.bc.ca

Rev Pesky

From above posted article:

Cancellation of the Site C Dam would be a powerful gesture that would require actual sacrifice by the non-Indigenous of our province, a sacrifice that is long overdue.

They could also remove the two existing dams on the Peace (that are within 50 kms of Site C), and drain Williston Lake. That would show real commitment.

NDPP

You mean the earlier ecocide-as-genocide for which the Forked-Tongues apologized for the 'profound and painful impact on FNs'?

https://www.desmog.ca/2016/06/10/bc-hydro-apologizes-bennett-dam-s-profo...

"BC Hydro deeply regrets the impacts of the WAC Bennett Dam on First Nations and will not repeat the mistakes of the past..."

Rev Pesky

Well, NDPP, I'm glad you've found a way to create electricity that has no ecological footprint. 

The world awaits your discovery!

jas
jas

All over the world, governments are being strong-armed into building mega-dams with massive debt financing. Not surprisingly, this is changing the public ownership of power utilities.

Brazilian official signals end to country's mega-dam boom

The World Bank is bringing back big, bad dams

Big Dams: Bringing Poverty, Not Power to Africa

It seems few on the Canadian left even understand this. But the question is: who's doing the bullying?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
All over the world, governments are being strong-armed into building mega-dams

By whom?  Voters?  Multi-national corporations?

Quote:
with massive debt financing.

I thought debt was a good thing??  If it's a bad thing, someone should at least tell Tom Mulcair that he didn't get the wrong end of the stick.

Rev Pesky

By the way, jas, Brady Yauch, whose article you posted works for the innocently named "Consumer Policy Institute". What is not clear from the article is that CPI is a part of ProbeInternational, a formerly sort of progressive think tank which has changed a lot over the years.

The head of the whole operation now ius a guy named Lawrence Solomon. His claim to fame is that he took over running the organization when Jane Jacobs died quite a few years ago.

One of his articles I really liked was the one where he stated that less ice was good for polar bears because it meant they didn't have to swim so far for their food. Stupid like that you don't find just wandering the street.

Another Probe alumnus is Margaret Wente. 

If I was you, before I posted another article by Yauch, I'd check into Probe International, and it's many different names.

jas

Thanks for the heads up, Rev Pesky. I agree we should always look at the source of information.

Here's the report by Yauch which is referenced in some of the above:

How Megaprojects are bankrupting public utilities and leaving regulators in the dark

Rev Pesky

OK, I read the report. The author sticks pretty close to ' cost/benefit' for electrical generation. But of course, that is a problem because the cheapest electrical generation is fossil-fuel generation. But no one wants to increase levels of CO2, so fossil-fuel generation is out of the question, except in the USA of course where they plan to use coal fired plants to generate cheap electricty.

Yauch goes on and on about how electrical rates are going to rise, and that's fair enough. But did he, or you, for that matter, look at what others are paying for electricity?

Just in case you haven't, here's a comparison of rates across North America

Price per kwh across North America in Canadian dollar

You will note that people in San Fransico pay four times the rate that Manitobans pay. 

Hydro provides clean, sustainable electrical generation. Yes it is more expensive than coal or oil or natural gas. But unless you're willing to accept the higher CO2 levels associated with those methods, hydro is the best alternative.

A slightly deeper look into Yauch's article suggests that what he's really against is public ownership of electrical generation. That would fit very much with the general tenor of ProbeInternational propaganda.