The situation with green power production is getting very Orwellian in my opinion. There are arguments out there that wind power is the least green power source of power possible - well "industrial scale" wind is the worst. The use of industrial scale is a nice touch.
So the argument I am getting from people opposed to wind power is that it is not green at all because wind power needs to be backed up by other sources of electrical power to deal with the times when the wind is not blowing or there is a change in the wind. They are arguing that wind power does not in the end reduce CO2 emissions at all because of this.
What they are saying is that to be certain of the power supply, there needs to be a back up to the wind turbines. In Ontario this would be a coal fired power plant running at 60% to make sure that a drop in production from the turbines can be replaced if needed. So this would mean no reduction in CO2 emissions according to them. The final step in their argument seems to be missing a step of logic - I can not work out how they apply CO2 emissions to a KWh or wind produced power.
Let us say you need to run some other plant at 60% to back up the turbines, that still means 40% less CO2 emissions. The power from the coal fired plants would still be used to provide power to the grid. Even a 40% reduction in coal fired power 50% of the time would make a huge difference to the CO2 emissions in North America, something in the order of 400 000 000 tonnes of CO2 per year. But this supposes there is no option but to have this full back of wind as needs to be done at the moment.
On a small scale I can see full scale back up as being needed over a small geographic area such as Denmark. If the wind stops blowing in one place in Denmark, it stops everywhere. Denmark is smaller than Nova Scotia, it is smaller than some parks in BC. It is also very flat so either they have wind or they do not. This problem disappears if one looks at the bigger scale, with enough geographic variation the winds will be varied over the whole region.
On a bigger scale there would be wind turbines over a wide a range, wide enough that there is realistically going to be wind at some of the locations. I see it like a distributed network. In Canada the back up for wind eventually could be hydro, they are well matched for this. Large scale hydro is very easy to turn on and off as needed and as wind takes on a share of the baseload, hydro can be turned down and up as needed.
The Danes suffer from the fact that they are a very small country with the same weather everywhere - there is no real variation to allow for some areas to have wind and others not. Europe needs to be a single integrated grid so that when the wind blows in Denmark they can produce all the power they can and when it is not blowing they can get power for some location in Europe where it is blowing.
As you bring more and more wind online and have a consistent underlying base load from the turbines, you can start shutting down the coal plants. You need to think on a large enough scale on the continent to see that it does work.
In North America with have several north-south integrated grids, all of them are large enough that wind be a good addition to the mix and provide, over the whole grid, a consistent source of electricity. Each KWh of wind still remains a KWh of power that does not need to be produced from coal.
At the end of the day, each KWh of wind is still one that is produced without CO2 emissions.