How Wind and Solar Energy Projects Really Work (or Don't)

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Wind and solar energy are not new, but they've newly come into the forefront of the energy markets in North America, and in particular in Ontario, Canada. This presentation will explore some of the challenges in developing these projects, and how to overcome them.

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  • Ontario is a problematic province, with a diversity of strengths and weaknesses, a huge provincial budget, a multimodal economy, and a voracious appetite for energy. The provincial energy system is one of the largest items on the Provincial budget, and is a growing concern. Ontario's Green Energy Act has begun the process of decentralizing Ontario's energy system, opening up opportunities for local communities and local individuals to generate energy for themselves.   What Ontario's government and ENGO sector did not expect was the degree of opposition and localized social friction that locally owned renewable energy projects would face. That opposition has had mixed competence, but has become increasingly well organized, and has been very damaging to Ontario's nacent green energy economy.   Comparable and contrasting experiences will be assessed from other parts of Canada as well, from Alberta's wind farms to Nova Scotia and PEI. This paper will focus on transformation of Canada's energy markets, and on what Ontario's experience with the Green Energy Act can teach us all about social and market forces that are actively and passively opposing the transition to ICES'. Comments/recommendations will be made on effective vs. ineffective policy change, strategies and methods for increasing market acceptance and engagement, and risks that need to be managed (and how).
  • Picture from http://www.bcenergyblog.com/tags/ontario-wind-farms/
  • Listed in order of Mindscape’s expertise, and loosely of CREW’s preference: we know wind the best, and biomass/biogas the least. Wind has the greatest impact per dollar spent
  • First things first: planning municipal energy should preface conservation over generation. Moral of the story: grab the low hanging fruit first. Less invasive = less resistance.
  • Image: Wind turbines and solar panels outside Wal-Mart in McKinney, Texas Whether retrofitting buildings or street lighting, the same principles apply: Use Less: Know your turn-down ratio (50-70% is not uncommon from what we’ve been told by our colleagues) Consider controls to improve turn-down: lighting controls, PLC/BAS controls, etc. Turn-off stuff not in use (eg: motion sensors in bathrooms) Turn-off stuff that’s not required (eg: daylight sensors, moisture sensors on irrigation) Eg: don’t spend electricity on lighting when the sun is doing fine Eg: don’t spend water and electricity irrigating when it’s raining Eg: economizers for fresh air Recover the energy you’ve already used: ERV’s, DWHR, steam flue heat exchangers, etc. Incentives: (see later slides)
  • Step 1: Scoping – determine technology options Step 2: Feasibility assessment(s) Step 3: Research permitting requirements Step 4: Research grants and incentives Step 5: Hire RE consultant or turn-key OEM/distributor Mindscape provides renewable energy resource assessments to determine which forms of renewable energy will best fit your needs and location Mindscape also has partners involved with many different renewable energy technologies
  • Conserve! Then think about generating: Best financial returns are on the commercial scale: if you’re looking to invest, put your money in a wind coop. Biomass has some attractive opportunities, but … CREW focuses on mature technology that’s ready for mass market
  • Social friction is emotional: fear, uncertainty & doubt
  • Bottom line: There are some legitimate drawbacks to wind energy, but they’re extremely minor compared to the alternatives, or even compared to the risks we take when we get into the car and drive to work every morning. Note: wind is not unreliable – it’s intermittent. Important difference. Turbines are the most reliable generators around – far more so than nuclear. “ unfounded and unprovable silliness”: Ask for recent reports based on recent data – note that the industry has advanced significantly over the last few decades, and every year counts. All of reports against wind that actually have valid concerns are very obsolete. 20 yrs. of reports in Europe, Canada (yes local), and around the globe that deal with all the concerns raised thus far. “ There is nothing new under the sun”, especially with wind energy antagonists. Bird kill stats from CanWEA (per 10,000 avian fatalities): <1 from wind turbines 50 from communication towers 710 from pesticides 850 from vehicles 1060 from cats 1370 from high tension lines 5820 from collisions with buildings / windows
  • POOL eg: coastal farm community in Germany whose gross revenue increased >40x after turbines arrived. They call the off-shore turbines beautiful. NIMBY eg: certain rural farmers in Ontario that got bad land deals from large out-of-province developers.
  • Social friction is emotional: fear, uncertainty & doubt
  • Social friction is emotional: fear, uncertainty & doubt
  • Diversity in corporate revenue: eg John Deer Other benefits: -Land lease revenue for rural land owners (eg: wind) -farmer claims: energy is most reliable crop (over any agricultural crop) Rural economic development (new jobs for design, construction, maintenance, …)
  • Debatable: Wind as only method of electricity generation that fully recovers embodied energy Diversity in corporate revenue: eg John Deer Other benefits: -Land lease revenue for rural land owners (eg: wind) Rural economic development (new jobs for design, construction, maintenance, …)
  • Boundaries, Scope limitation, & Public Engagement Know what you’re actually asking vs. sharing Know that ppl can tell if your asking is genuine vs. selling
  • - key points for builders
  • Image from http://www.caribbeanelections.com/education/images/library_books_5516.jpg Prefer personal power instead of community owned (eg: coop)? Contact Mindscape. Keep brief: <1 min. Mindscape Innovations, the 2008 Gowlings "New Business of the Year", which provides core enabling services to both the green building sector and the renewable energy sector: from feasibility studies to renewable energy system solutions to processing grants and incentives to certifying ENERGY STAR or LEED buildings.
  • How Wind and Solar Energy Projects Really Work (or Don't)

    1. 1. © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Life in the Trenches: How Wind and SolarProjects Really Work (or Don’t)Construct Canada, Toronto, 2012-11-28Derek Satnik, P.Eng., LEED®APMindscape Innovations Group Inc.www.mi-group.ca
    2. 2. Picture from http://www.bcenergyblog.com/tags/ontario-wind-farms/AgendaA “101” style walk-through ofreal-life project experiences:•Context & Planning•Challenges to Expect•Pitfalls to Avoid•Where to Find Help•Lessons Learned
    3. 3. Photo by K. Stevens, 2008 – Ulsan © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Derek Satnik, P.Eng., LEED®APManaging Partner & Chief Innovation Officer• Electrical Engineer, renewable energy / LEED®specialist: Consultingwith Stantec / Enermodal since ’99 (various capacities on facility designteams), Managing Partner at Mindscape since Oct. 2006• Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC): LEED for Homes, RealEstate, Neighbourhood Development, and Mid-Rise (sub-)Committees• Canadian Residential Energy Services Network, Founder & Advisor• Net-Zero Energy Housing Coalition, Technical Advisor• Built Green Canada, Technical Standards Committee Chair• Natural Resources Canada’s “Solar Ready” program, Advisor• Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Past Vice-Chair• Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Board of Advisors• Green Energy Act Alliance, Management Committee• Community Renewable Energy Waterloo, Past-President• Conestoga College Program Advisory Committee helping create arenewable energy trades program• Local Initiative for Future Energy Co-operative Inc., Founder• Sustainable Waterloo (regional carbon market), Advisory Board
    4. 4. © Mindscape InnovationsConservation Roadmap & ROI ChartFrom book Smart Power: An Urban Guide to Renewable Energy and Efficiency, © William H. Kemp
    5. 5. Energy Efficiency 101Step 1: Learn what you’re using (metering, watch bills)Step 2: Identify opportunities to use lessStep 3: Identify applicable incentive programsStep 4: Consider hiring an energy audit professionalStep 5: Retrofit – Start with the low-hanging fruitStep 6: Use min 50% of the savings to finance furtherefforts (build an increasing project budget year afteryear)Repeat!Slide © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Walmart, McKinney, Texas, with white roof, wind & solar:http://www.elperfecto.com/wp-content/uploads/Bing_Maps_Wind_Turbine_Wal-Mart_McKinneyTX.jpg
    6. 6. Photo by K. Stevens, 2008 – Lions HeadImplementation of Renewable Energy SystemsStep 1: Scoping – determine technology optionsStep 2: Feasibility assessment(s)Step 3: Research permitting requirementsStep 4: Research grants and incentivesStep 5: Hire RE consultant or turn-key OEM/distributor• Mindscape provides renewable energy resourceassessments to determine which forms of renewableenergy will best fit your needs and location• Mindscape also has partners involved with manydifferent renewable energy technologies (checkOSEA members list and www.OntarioGreenSpec.ca)© Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    7. 7. © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Profitability Comparison for RE TechnologiesPayback (yrs)RelativeCost($/unit)0 2515Solar DHWPVBIPVPV w/trackers orconc.SolarwallsPVthermalhybridWind>1MWWind<30kWConservationGeoBioHydro
    8. 8. Photo by K. Stevens, 2008 – Prescott-RusselChallenges / Pitfalls• Transmission/Distribution Constraints• Utilities adapting differently and with varying levels ofsupportiveness• Finances– Industries maturing: costs improving– Incentive programs maturing• Clear contract documents• Social friction & misinformation• CSA equipment certifications• ESA final site approval© Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    9. 9. Myths & Misunderstandings About Wind Energy( www.mi-group.ca/faq )Myths• Infrasound• Bird / bat kill- more likely to die froma cat, car, or building• Ground vibrations…A long list ofunfounded andunprovable sillinessMisunderstandings• Land use- farm up to tower base• Audible noise- quieter than the wind• Intermittent (“blows whenit wants to”)- geographic diversity- supply mix planning- pair with PV / hydro / biogasPicture from www.canhydro.comSlide © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    10. 10. Picture from www.canhydro.comSlide © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.The Truth about “Aesthetics” &Wind Turbines…• NIMBY (“not in my backyard”)– General reaction from everybody that has to watchyou make money off their wind• POOL (“please on our land”)– General reaction from everybody that gets invitedto co-invest and own part of the wind project• “Your own pigs don’t stink…”• Share the equity (even just 1%!)
    11. 11. Managing Social FrictionSocial friction is emotional: fear, uncertainty & doubt• Be proactive: understand the likely issues– Media, recent/current events, relevant science & myths• Respect the people regardless of their concerns• Have a process– Share your plan– Listen to concerns• Choose your battles– “Walk softly, and carry a big stick”– Be well informed, and boldly challenge mistruths– Don’t make mountains out of mole-hills© Mindscape Innovations
    12. 12. Know who You’re Talking WithRespect for them, and for you• 70+% are Honest Jane & Confused Kathy: haveconcerns, maybe heard rumours, need informationand to be heard and respected• NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) – often resolvable• BANANA (Built Absolutely Nothing Anywhere NearAnyone) – unrealistic and often selfish• NOPE (Not On Planet Earth) – willfully ignorantKnow when to disagree and let go© Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    13. 13. Selling the Benefits of (Distributed)Renewable Energy• Recognize the audience• Local revenue & jobs: keep the farm• Helps stabilize cost of electricity• Distributed electricity generation increases gridstability, reduces transmission losses, and dismantleselectricity monopolies – energy independence• Electricity without emissions• Tourism• Remember: he who complains the loudest is alwaysa statistical minority. Get others heard.Picture from www.canhydro.comSlide © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    14. 14. © Mindscape InnovationsMindscape Note:4-12 mo’s!(Slide courtesy of Ontario Power Authority)
    15. 15. Where to Get Help• REFO (advice)www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/renewable-energy-facilitation-office• OSEA (advice, resources)www.ontario-sea.org• CEPP ($10k-$200k grants for eligible “communities”)www.communityenergyprogram.ca• Tax Incentives (class 43.2 depreciation)• Consultants (Mindscape or other)www.mi-group.caPicture from http://www.julietschor.org/2010/05/welcome-to-plenitude/Slide © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    16. 16. Photo from http://www.socalofficerealestateblog.com/wp-content/newuploads/2009/06/saddleback-church-solar-electric-panels-1-large.jpgIncentives That Make $enseEnergy Efficiency Measures (Conservation)• Union Gas / Enbridge design assistance grants• Federal ecoENERGY Incentives• REDO (Renewable Energy Development in Ontario)• saveONenergy (audits & retrofits)Renewable Energy (Generation)• Net-metering• Feed-In Tariff (FIT)• Taxes: Capital Cost Allowances• CEPP / AREF© Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.
    17. 17. Photo from http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/img/solar_church_onpage.jpg© Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Lessons Learned• Plan Early• Spend 1% on feasibility• Use available support• Ask lots of questions (early and often, especially ofapproval agencies), and push for real answers• Talk to the neighbours and be willing to share• Expect delays• Have clear roles & bid documents• Don’t neglect CSA / ESA / Conservation Authorities• Sometimes net metering is better than FIT
    18. 18. Picture from http://www.winnipeg.ca/ppd/pdf_files/Nhbd_guide.pdfSlide © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Transferrable LessonsTypically true for any public process:•Plan Early•Budget for feasibility•Use available support•Ask lots of questions (early and often, especially ofapproval agencies), and push for real answers•Invest in stakeholdering•Expect delays•Have clear boundaries and scope limitations•Don’t neglect external approvals (eg: CSA, LDCs,Conservation Authorities, etc)
    19. 19. Photo by K. Stevens, 2009 - Toronto © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Key Points• Conservation before generation• Green power is popular & feasible• Social friction is everybody’s responsibility• Social friction is emotional: fear, uncertainty & doubt• “The truth shall set you free”• Seek every opportunity to turn enemies into allies• Be active in policy: join OSEA / CanSIA / CanWEA• Have competent help• Plan ahead
    20. 20. © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.Mindscape Innovations Group• In this new library of ideas, we’re the librarians.• Turn-key full lifecycle solutions forenvironmentally and technologically enhancedhomes, businesses, and communities.• 14 awards since ‘07, municipal through international• Core enabling services to both the green building sectorand the renewable energy sector: policy and incentiveprogram development, Community Energy Plans /Sustainability Plans, feasibility studies, renewable energysystem solutions, processing grants and incentives,permits and approvals, managing public stakeholderingand social friction, and much more...
    21. 21. © Mindscape Innovations Group Inc.info@mi-group.ca877-394-6589www.mi-group.cawww.mi-group.ca/faqThank you!

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