July 12, 2012
Health Canada study on the health effects of wind farms.
June 26, 2012
Wind turbines, the new green giants.
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.
January 12, 2011
In Toronto, Bridgepoint Group has helped secure financing for a 200+ MV Ontario wind farm. Northland Power Income Fund has sold its 54 MW wind farm in Quebec to Burlington’s NextEra Energy Canada.
Ontario has almost 40 per cent of Canada’s installed capacity for wind-generated electricity. The Conference Board of Canada has reported that development of the offshore wind industry in Ontario could add between $4.8 and $5.5 billion to the province’s economy.
Hydro-Quebec has recently accepted bids for a dozen small-scale wind energy projects totalling just under 300 MW of installed capacity.
On the prairies, SaskPower is assessing the economic and environmental benefits of self-generated power projects. Wind turbines are being installed at municipal ice arenas as part of the demonstration projects.
TransAlta, located in Calgary has recently commissioned wind facilities in Alberta and New Brunswick. Greengate Power, also located in Calgary is planning to build a wind facility just outside of the city in partnership with Edmonton’s Capital Power Corporation.
October 20, 2010
Ontario continues to lead the country in installed wind energy capacity. A recent Ipsos Reid survey 565KB PDF, found that most Ontario residents supported wind energy in their region (looks like they are over NIMBY), encourage their municipal governments to facilitate wind energy development and believe wind energy can provide economic opportunities and benefits.
Canada should finish 2010 with 754 megawatts of new wind energy capacity, which represents a whooping $1.7 billion in new investment. Significant, public-supported energy industry growth powered by significant investment equals exciting news.
In la belle province, the federal government’s ecoEnergy for Renewable Power program is set to provide up to $65 million over the next ten years to two wind farms in the Gaspé – Cartier Wind Energy’s 100.5-MW L’Anse-à-Valleau and 109.5-MW Carleton wind farms.
Are you interested in owning your own wind turbine or leasing land to a commercial wind developer? If you’re an Alberta landowner, you’re in luck.
The Pembina Institute’s new detailed Landowners’ Guide to Wind Energy in Alberta (3.1MB PDF) provides information on a range of topics: the province’s electricity market, wind technology, wind energy issues and impacts, the approval process, ownership models and negotiating with developers. This resource is free to download.
There are two wind events coming up in Canada. CanWEA’s 2010 Annual Conference and Exhibition takes place from November 1 to 3 in Montreal. If you’re in the city, CanWEA is looking for volunteers to help at the conference.
And to wrap up a busy year, CanWEA will host Growing Wind in BC, which runs from December 9 to 10 in Vancouver. The event will include an education seminar and discussion forum.
June 9, 2010
Given their massive size and a variety of concerns around noise (even though there’s no evidence that the noise from wind turbines leads to adverse health effects) and the safety of birds and bats (though there are ongoing attempts to create “bird-proof” turbines), it’s hardly surprising that wind farms still get a tough rap. Even though truly “backyard” wind generation is still a ways off, residents are still uncomfortable with turbines anywhere nearby.
But now, residents in Ontario are exhibiting an entirely new brand of NIMBYism. What’s different about this latest round of complaints is that the wind farm in question would be as far away from any literal backyards as a development can get: smack dab in the middle of the world’s 13th largest lake, Lake Eerie. As reported by The Detroit News, some residents in the communities surrounding Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie oppose the proposed development by SouthPoint Wind, which would produce up to 1,400 megawatts of electricity. As with many NIMBY protests, residents are worried that the turbines could reduce property values by cluttering the landscape, and that these farms could damage surrounding wildlife.
The issue of the appearance of the hundreds of wind turbines is further complicated by the fact that Lake Eerie lies on the US-Canadian border, meaning that development on either side would be visible to both. Just like the wind that would power these turbines, nobody has jurisdictional authority on the horizon.
And SouthPoint isn’t the only energy producer eyeing the Great Lakes as a source of wind energy. NorTech, an American company, developed “the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), a regional nonprofit organization responsible for accelerating offshore wind deployment in Lake Erie.” In fact, the LEEDCo recently announced a partnership with GE that would see turbines supplied to a 20 MW offshore project, targeted for late 2012.
As far as offshore wind development goes, the objections of a sailing club and lakeside property owners is fairly minor when compared to the massive logistical difficulties that ocean-based farms have had to contend with. Rough seas, high costs and transporting maintenance workers over large expanses of water are just a few of the hurdles that other developments have faced. Still, even when there are barely any people around, the human factor in energy development can often be the most important one of all.
August 11, 2009
It’s hard for dense metropolitan areas like New York City to go green. There is no room for say, massive two-hundred-foot-tall wind turbines. Or is there?
Well, there is on a small scale. New York City recently began mounting apartment-sized wind turbines that look a lot like table fans onto their affordable housing complexes. Supplying power directly to homes, the small turbines typically cut electricity costs in half.
Cleveland State University scientist Dr. Majid Rashidi (pictured left) is taking it one step further: he wants to replace the water towers that grace many of NYC’s older buildings with a wind-turbine silo. The logic is New Yorkers are already accustomed to the roof-top structures, making the retro-fit the ideal opportunity to turn the concrete jungle green.
One of the major problems preventing wind turbines from being truly effective in urban areas is the difficulty in harnessing the variable and unstable wind speeds. That’s why Rashidi’s design is generating so much interest.
The silo-like structure containing four wind turbines actually accelerates the wind hitting the turbines and allows them to generate power more consistently than one of the more typical mini airplane propeller type turbines.
And while the building-mounted wind turbine won’t exactly be winning any wind-generating awards, producing only about 8 kilowatts per hour, it is still a gust in the right direction, saving a potential 600,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
And on the smog-choked streets of New York City, that’s not going to blow past unnoticed.
August 5, 2009
As solar and wind power become more mainstream, companies and environmentalists alike are searching for new and improved ways to push the green envelope even further.
And while wind turbines are now a pretty common sight, any opposition to them floats around the disruption they cause to migratory birds and well, the fact that thousands of towering two-hundred foot wind turbines just look kind of ugly.
One way to increase curb appeal is being pushed out to sea by Norway’s StatoilHydro. Appropriately named the HyWind, it is the world’s first full-scale floating offshore windmill.
The HyWind is a 2.3 MW turbine with a floating segment that continues 100m below the ocean’s surface. Anchored to the seabed with 60-tonne concrete weights and cables that can be up to 700m long, power is transmitted back to the shore via undersea cables.
One problem that needs to be overcome: the cost. Wind speeds may be higher offshore, generating more energy, but the turbines are also more expensive to build offshore.
Floating turbines are also causing waves of excitement since they open up the possibility of simultaneously harnessing wind and wave power.
Green Ocean Energy Ltd’s Wave Treader generates power as the side arms float up and down. The electricity produced is sent back to shore through the same cable as the wind turbine, proving that darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter, under the sea.
Floating wind turbines and wave power devices may be soon become…er…the wave of the future.
April 24, 2009
Renewable energy is the talk of the town, but how do you go about transforming talk into action? Sometimes it’s difficult to create change on a mass scale, but the more individuals think, talk and act according to increased awareness about the environment, the closer we all get to a more sustainable future. If you’re thinking about doing your part, two energy resources you should learn more about are solar and wind.
Catch some rays
Solar power can be used to heat water in your home or business and generate electricity for lighting and appliances. In addition to saving you money on your energy bill, power produced from the sun can provide an energy source in remote locations and increase security from power outages.
Think solar energy is a bright idea? The Canadian Solar Industries Association (CSIA) works with individuals and organizations to develop and implement programs that encourage the widespread use of solar energy in Canada. They offer a searchable member directory that is your best source for a full range of solar products (including solar panels and heat pumps) and services in your region.
They also provide information to help you learn to design and install solar photovoltaic systems and hot water systems and sponsor Clean Energy Classrooms where you’ll find additional employment and career information.
Have some questions or just need more information to get started?
NRCan’s ecoENERGY Renewable Heat program offers incentives to business to install active energy-efficient solar air and/or water heating systems. And on the home front there are government programs to help you pay for retrofits and renovations. These programs run to March 31, 2011. First Look helps you estimate annual solar radiation in your area. And Off the Grid seminars help you learn how to reduce your energy bill without changing your lifestyle.
Wind power is a clean, sustainable source of energy. It is compatible to use with your regular power supply and is an excellent source of energy for rural areas. Ideal for less sunny regions, wind can generate energy day and night and is an inexpensive source of alternative energy.
Want to join the winds of change? Canadian Wind Association (CanWEA) represents the wind energy community in Canada — organizations and individuals who are directly involved in the development and application of wind energy technology, products and services.
CanWEA provides information on small wind energy systems. Their Small Wind Purchase Guide (472KB PDF) gives homeowners, ranchers and farmers helpful tips on buying wind turbines, assessing a site, permitting, installing and maintaining equipment and connecting to the grid. They also provide an easy step-by-step planning exercise and a cost calculator. If you’re looking at the bigger picture and want to learn more about wind farms and wind energy CanWEA can provide you with what you need.
Have some questions or just need more information to get started?
First Look helps you estimate annual wind speed in your area. NRCan’s Clean Energy Project Analysis Software helps you evaluate energy production and savings, costs, emission reductions, financial visibility and risk for various types of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. The Wind Energy Institute of Canada is advancing the development of wind energy in Canada through research, testing, innovation and collaboration. They have initiated a testing program for small wind turbines that includes power performance and quality, acoustic noise emissions, duration and safety. And Mariah Power is taking a new approach with a vertical wind turbine that supplies low cost energy and easy maintenance for your home or small business.