August 24, 2012
BC continues to invest in wind power. The government has approved a new development in northeastern BC. The Tumbler Ridge Wind Energy project, a new development in northeastern BC, will generate enough power to provide electricity for up to 18,000 homes. There will be 50 wind turbines installed.
In Nova Scotia the COMFIT program continues to support locally-based renewable energy projects. The program is part of the province’s 2010 Renewable Electricity Plan. The province has approved five new projects.
- two 800-kilowatt wind projects in Barney’s River, Pictou Co., owned by Northumberland Wind Field.
- a four-megawatt wind project in Barrachois, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and a 2.3-megawatt wind project in Gaetz Brook, Halifax Regional Municipality, owned by Wind4all Communities.
- a 50-kilowatt wind project on the campus of Université Ste-Anne in Church Point, Digby Co.
- a 4.8-megawatt project in Kemptown, Colchester Co., owned by Affinity Renewables, a not-for-profit organization owned by the Nova Scotia SPCA.
- a 1.99-megawatt project in Marion Bridge, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, owned by Celtic Current.
And Health Canada has extended its public comment period on the proposed research design and methodology for its study on wind turbine noise and health. September 7 is the new deadline for comments. The study, which will be done in collaboration with Statistics Canada, will be focused on 2,000 homes selected from 8-12 wind turbine installation facilities in Canada. Researchers will interview residents and measure noise levels inside and outside of each home.
June 29, 2012
As renewable energy grows, so does the excitement surrounding it. If you’re looking for a way to channel this passion, look no further than Friends of Wind.
Friends of Wind is a site that promotes advocacy for the wind industry. It provides you will all the tools you need to support wind energy. From contacting your provincial representative, to guides on writing letters to the editor, Friends of Wind has you covered.
Friends of Wind isn’t letting your advocacy go unrewarded either. With their Power of Wind blog contest they are providing up to a $2,000 bursary for the best 300 words on wind. The contest runs until September 15th, and is open to Canadian post-secondary students, either prospective or current.
If $2,000 for just 300 words isn’t tempting enough, the prizes also include an invitation to deliver your essay in person at CanWEA’s Annual Awards Banquet, and a chance to climb the turbine at Exhibition place.
For a taste of what that experience would be like, check out this video from Puget Sound Energy. Acrophobics beware.
June 26, 2012
New Improvements in B.C.’s wind industry.
May 9, 2012
The U.S. is back on top of the clean energy investment race. But the position might be short lived.
Five clean energy initiatives in the States ended in 2011 including three tax credit programs, the Department of the Treasury Section 1603 Grant Program and Department of Energy Section 1705 Loan Guarantees.
Pew Environment Group recently released their annual report on clean energy investment. With a primary focus on investment, the report also looks at technological trends related to the clean energy economy of G-20 members.
The United States attracted $48.1 billion in clean energy investments in 2011. It led the way in venture capital financing (70 per cent of the G-20 total) and was second in public market offerings and asset financing (behind China). The U.S. also has 93 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, second only to China, which continues to lead the world in clean energy capacity with 133 GW installed.
2011 was the first year that the U.S. installed more that 1 GW of solar energy and a portion of its 2011 investment dollars were directed towards solar. Investments in large, utility-scale solar power plants are expected to add to America’s installed capacity count in the years to come.
In Canada, our clean energy investment grew by four per cent last year and totalled $5.5 billion. That puts us 11th amoung the G-20 nations. This is were our investment dollars were spent in 2011:
- 56 per cent of total – wind
- 19 per cent – solar, both residential and commercial
- 13 per cent – other renewables like geothermal, biomass and small-hydro
- 8 per cent – biofuels
- 4 per cent – efficiency and low carbon technology and services
Canada has 9.6 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, which is 1.9 per cent of the G-20 total. That breaks down into four sectors: 5.4GW of wind power, 2 GW of small hydro power, 1.8 GW of energy generated by biomass and waste and 0.47 GW of solar power. Interestingly and as is sometimes the case, our 2011 solar energy investment contrasts sharply with a lag in deployment.
Read the executive summary or full report on the Pew Environment Group website.
February 9, 2012
The European Wind Energy Association is hosting an international photography contest in the run-up to Global Wind Day (June 15). You can submit images until May 6 on the theme ‘Wind in Mind’. There are Amazon vouchers to be won and the winning image will be published. Read more on how to enter the competition.
October 5, 2011
The problem with wind and solar power, so we’re led to believe, is that because both are dependent on weather conditions, neither is a “reliable” source of electricity. The big question has always been “What if there isn’t enough wind?”
But, do we ever ask “What if there is too much wind?”
High winds will cause wind turbines to automatically shut down, but what happens if wind speed is within operable parameters over a very large region for an extended period of time?
According to a recent Calgary Herald article, that’s what happened in Germany on July 24 this year. The country’s wind turbines generated so much electricity that some utilities paid consumers to use it.
And that’s happened more than 30 times this year. And not just in Germany.
With calls for increased renewable power, and more and more wind farms and solar parks being constructed, one can almost foresee a time when coal and gas-fired electricity form the peaking load and not the base load.
So what if the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine? With widespread distribution, that may be rare.
April 15, 2011
There are two basic types of wind turbines defined by the orientation if the axis or drive haft that turns the generator – horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) and vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT).
Horizontal axis wind turbines are the oldest, most efficient and therefore, the most common of the two types. They consist of two or more vertical blades (three is the most common) attached to a hub which is in turn attached to the horizontal drive shaft and the generator. This whole assembly sits on top of a tower. The blades face into the wind on the windward side of the tower to avoid any disturbance the tower may create. The tower is designed to elevate the blades into the strongest and most consistent wind. Currently, the longest blades are 82 metres long (269 feet) and the tallest towers reach 180 metres or 590 feet.
There are many different vertical axis wind turbine designs, ranging from the Darrius “egg beater” configuration to bladed turbines. Like HAWTs, vanes or blades turn a shaft connected to a generator , although in this case the shaft is vertical and the generator on the ground. There is no tower, and VAWTs are generally much shorter than HAWTs, The prime advantage of VAWT configuration is that it faces always faces into the wind, and is therefore better suited to areas where the wind is continually changing direction. Because of their more compact design, VAWTs are commonly used for microgeneration by home, cottage and small business owners and farmers to provide power for their own use or to sell back to grid.
A new development combines a VAWT with solar cells to provide electricity from wind power and solar power at the same time.
April 14, 2011
Offshore wind farms are viewed as one answer to wind turbine noise, unsightliness, and danger to bats. Makes sense? – put them where no one can hear or see them. As well, offshore winds are far more consistent and reliable than onshore winds. There are more than 40 offshore wind farms in China, Japan and 10 European countries. Their total combined capacity at the end of 2009 was almost 2,000 megawatts. So the question is why aren’t there offshore wind farms in Canada?
The answer is obvious for Alberta and Saskatchewan – neither have an offshore. Sure there are some big lakes but those are well off the grid and the costs of transmission infrastructure and transmission itself would be prohibitive.
British Columbia may soon have an offshore wind farm. On March 17, 2011 NaiKun Wind Energy Group was “granted a federal screening decision, confirming that Canada’s first offshore wind project can be constructed with no significant environmental, social or health effects.” The project will be located in Hecate Strait Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert and will comprise up to 110 turbines will a combined installed capacity of 396 megawatts.
Image: Naikun Wind Energy Group
While Ontario doesn’t have a sea coast, it does border on three great lakes: Ontario, Erie and Huron. Until recently four offshore projects were planned, but in February, the Ontario government decided to impose a moratorium “until the necessary scientific research is completed and an adequately informed policy framework can be developed.” The ministry also said “Offshore wind power development in freshwater lakes is relatively new and presents technical challenges that do not exist in a saltwater environment, such as the need to manage potential impacts to drinking water and the effects of ice build-up on support structures.”
The action be the Ontario government seems to be counter to its previous assertions that wind power will be a more and more important source of electricity as the province’s coal-fired generating stations are phased out.
There is one other example of a wind farm in fresh water, the Vindpark Vänern on Lake Vanern in Sweden. Located 6.5 kilometres off shore and consisting of 10 three-megawatt turbines, the project went on line in May 2010.
While New Brunswick, Prince Edward and Nova Scotia currently do not have offshore wind farms, all three provinces are investigating the possibility.
April 13, 2011
As with pretty much every great discovery, the initial use of wind power was probably accidental. Someone standing on a raft put out their arms, the air current caught their cloak and presto, the wind had been harnessed.
Initially, using the wind was more a case of redirecting it – into sails for transportation, through ducts and pipes for ventilation. Later, some enterprising person figured out how to power machines, like water pumps and grain mills with the wind.
It wasn’t until 1887 that a Scotsman named James Blyth first used wind-generated electricity to light his summer home. Later the same year, Charles F. Brush made a horizontal axis wind turbine that powered his house and laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio.
Left: James Blyth’s vertical axis wind turbine Right: Charles Brush’s horizontal axis wind turbine.
Wind powered generators grew in popularity, primarily on farms or isolated buildings not connected to the grid. Capacities of these early generators was usually in the range of five to 10 kilowatts.
In the late 1970s, capacities increased to 20 to 30 kilowatts and the market expanded, especially in Europe. In 1980, the first wind farm was built in New Hampshire and comprised 20 30-kilowatt turbines. However, the project failed because of design errors. Never the less, it paved the way for successful projects soon after. The largest on shore wind farm in the world is the Bigelow Canyon Wind Farm in Oregon. The project consists of 217 wind turbines with a combined installed capacity of 450 megawatts. The site covers 100 square kilometres.
The first offshore wind farm was constructed at Vindeby, Denmark. It consists of 11 450-kilowatt turbines with a combined installed capacity of 4.95 megawatts. The largest offshore wind farm is Thanet, off the southeast coast of England. Covering 35 square kilometres, it comprises 100 three-megawatt turbines with a combined installed capacity of 300 megawatts.
Thanet Offshore Wind Farm Image: Vattenfall
The total global installed capacity is more than 200,000 megawatts, and individual turbine capacity has risen to seven megawatts. The top five producers are the United States (28.3 per cent), Germany (14.4 per cent), Spain (13.9 per cent), China (10.0 per cent) and India (6.1 per cent). Canada ranks 13 overall with 1.4 per cent.
In Denmark, wind generation accounts for 18.7 per cent of total electricity generation. Portugal ranks second with 15.5 per cent and Spain ranks third with 12.6 per cent. In Canada, wind power contributes less than one per cent of total electricity generation.
April 12, 2011
Wind is just moving air. We all know that. But, what causes the air to move? The sun.
Solar radiation hits the surface of the Earth, and because the Earth is composed of different materials, the solar radiation is absorbed unevenly, creating warmer areas and cooler areas. The air over the warmer areas heats up and rises, creating an area of low pressure. The air over the cooler areas is cooled and sinks, creating an area of high pressure. Air always moves from high pressure to low pressure, so cooler air moves in to replace the rising warmer air. Hence, wind.
For example, during the day, land heats up faster than water, so warm air over land rises to be replaced by cooler air from over a lake or ocean. Conversely, at night the land cools faster than water, so the wind reverses and moves from the land to the sea.
On a larger scale, the regions closer to the Earth’s equator receive more heat from the sun than the polar regions, creating atmospheric winds that are also influenced by the Earth’s rotation.
Wind turbines generally operate at wind speeds ranging from about 13 kilometres per hour to 90 kilometres per hour. The number of revolutions per minute, depending on the type of turbine, ranges from 4.5 to about 30. The blade tip speed varies with blade length and revolutions per minute. The maximum blade tip speed for an 82 metre blade at a maximum 12.1 revolutions per minute is almost 375 kilometres per hour.