HARNESSING THE POWER OF THE WIND
has become one of the fastest growing sources of global electricity generation.
As countries strive to develop clean and secure energy systems,
more scientists, policy makers and communities are looking to wind power
as an important part of the solution.
As new opportunities emerge to develop wind-power generation
in communities across Canada, they raise reasonable questions
about the social, environmental and economic impacts of large-scale wind power production.
WIND POWER OVERVIEW
The energy from the wind can be harnessed by wind turbines
to generate electricity and also windmills to pump water.
During the 1990s, wind turbines evolved dramatically to become very large
and increasingly efficient machines, as a direct result of government policies
set in Denmark enabling communities and co-ops to develop wind turbines
and encouraging research and development.
Chart: Global Annual Wind Installations (MW) 1980-2005
Capturing and Using Wind
Modern wind turbines generate electricity typically around 80% of the time.
The output varies depending on wind speed, but over the course of a year,
a turbine is designed and expected to generate
about 30% of its theoretical maximum output.
This is known as its capacity factor,
which for conventional power plants is typically 50%.
Although the wind does not always blow,
one region may be calm while another one is windy.
Overall fluctuations can be significantly reduced
if wind turbines are spread out across a country or region.
Wind turbines tend to generate more power during the day
when it is needed most and less at night, a pattern which corresponds well to electricity demand.
Wind power therefore combines well with existing power plants in Canada
which can be used only when needed, such as hydro plants, or must-run power plants
like biomass that tend to have excess power at night.
The energy that is available in the wind is cubically related
to the speed at which it is moving.
In other words, doubling the wind speed means there is eight times more energy.
A good wind power site therefore needs to be consistently windy.
Even small differences in wind speed
an have a large impact on the performance a project.
Wind energy can also be used for mechanical work such as water pumping
and small-scale power systems for homes and small businesses.
Canada has a unique expertise
and manufacturing ability for medium-scale electrical systems
which are ideally suited for remote community applications
and hybrid systems such as wind-diesel.
Large-scale wind energy is becoming cost competitive with traditional power generation.
Wind patterns tend to follow consumption patterns.
Turbines co-exist nicely with farms,
supplying additional income with minimal impact on the usable land.
Wind turbines are very quiet and are less likely to be struck by a bird
than a downtown building, a bay window or a car is.
Global wind energy capacity has sustained growth rates over 25% for the past 15 years
primarily because wind energy has become a cost-effective source of renewable energy.
Western Europe has been the early technology adopter and, as a result,
has also become the early leaders in technology development.
Denmark, Germany and Spain are the world leaders in wind energy manufacturing.
Wind energy's growth has been so rapid
that there is currently a one- to two-year waiting period to receive a turbine
after it has been ordered.
There are now over 68,000 operational wind turbines.
Canada ranks behind the United States and most European countries
in wind energy installation. Despite a slower start,
Canada is currently experiencing an annual 30% growth rate in wind energy development,
a rate comparable to global development.
Wind turbine technology is improving rapidly.
For example, in the year 2000 a state-of-the-art turbine was 1.0 MW;
now 4.5 MW machines are on the market.
In this context it is difficult to quantify what a country's maximum potential is,
but a 20% supply, similar to that already deployed in Denmark is reasonably achievable.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association's goal is for 10,000 MW
of installed wind energy in Canada by the year 2010,
enough to supply 5% of Canada's electricity needs.
Denmark currently generates over 20% of its power from the wind,
an attainable goal for Canada.
If wind energy were to generate 20% of Canada's electricity,it would be the second
largest source of electricity behind hydro and ahead of nuclear, natural gas and coal.
Chart: Canadian Installed Capacity (MW) 2000—2006
Recent growth in Canada owes much to federal and provincial policy measures
which have enabled or encouraged wind energy development.
It is crucial that the government creates a level playing field for wind energy
so that it can compete with the highly subsidized fossil fuel conventional energy.
Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWea)
CanWEA Canada's Wind Farms ( installed capacity)
Wind energy is now one of the lowest cost sources of electricity generation.
Wind energy is more cost-competitive than new sources of energy
supplied by coal with carbon capture and storage, small hydro or nuclear power.
The fuel that turns wind turbine blades is free and the price of electricity it produces
is set for the entire life of the wind farm.
Long-term cost certainty of wind farms have a stabilizing effect on electricity rates,
providing important protection for consumers.Unlike other energy supply alternatives,
the cost of building wind energy continues to decline, with dramatic drops
over the past three years.
Wind projects have very short construction periods
and can be deployed quickly with many benefits delivered to local communities.
SMALL WIND ENERGY
Generating electricity from small or distributed wind energy
sources typically involves smaller wind turbines found at homes, farms, businesses
and public facilities, which off-set all or a portion of on-site energy consumption.
Small wind turbines are very different than large wind turbines.
Large turbines, often grouped in wind farms, are widely used by utilities across Canada
to provide electrical energy to electricity grids. Although small wind turbines may look
like miniature versions of large turbines, there are important differences in technology,
purchase decisions, application requirements and value of generated electricity.
A small wind system can be used on-grid (for a cottage, home, farm, or business) or off-grid
(for a boat, RV, cottage, home, farm, business, remote community, or remote station):
For on-grid, small wind can help supplement your grid electricity
and reduce your dependency on the local electrical utility.
For off-grid, small wind can help provide electricity
to remote locations for both seasonal and year-round use.
For isolated grids (not connected to the national electrical grid),
small wind can help reduce the use of diesel generators, thereby saving fuel costs
and reducing pollution.
The balance of scientific evidence and human experience to date
clearly concludes that wind turbines are not harmful to human health
– in fact, wind energy reduces harmful air emissions
and creates no harmful waste products when compared with other sources of electricity.
This conclusion has been reached
by numerous independent reviews of the scientific literature.
The global wind industry collectively continues to engage with experts in science,
medicine and occupational and environmental health to monitor ongoing credible
research in the area of wind turbines and human health.
In addition to being a major source of emission reductions,
wind energy does not create hazardous radioactive waste products.
An article by Drs. Cathy Vakil and Éric Notebaert of the Canadian Association of
Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), stated:
“We see nuclear power as a serious threat to public health.”
On July 23, 2012, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health
reinforced her position on wind energy and human health to the Standing Committee
on Estimates by stating: “I stand by the conclusions that I made in my study of 2010.
The weight of the evidence does not support any direct health effects
associated with wind turbines if they are appropriately placed,
and that is with a minimum of a 550-metre set-back.”
Find out what the experts say in Wind Energy: Safe Power, Clean Future
The Ontario Ministry of Environment estimates that shutting down coal
will reduce health care costs by $3 billion annually.
OCCCAE - Facts and Myths Debunked
Planning, building and operating a typical utility-scale wind farm
creates 1,079 jobs over its lifetime.
A 250-megawatt project generates 522 construction jobs, 432 positions in manufacturing,
80 for planning and development, 18 sales slots and 27 for operations,
Wind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed,
clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation and uses little land.
The effects on the environment are generally less problematic
than those from other power sources.
As of 2011, Denmark is generating more than a quarter of its electricity from wind
and 83 countries around the world are using wind power to supply the electricity grid.
In 2010 wind energy production was over 2.5% of total worldwide electricity usage,
and growing rapidly at more than 25% per annum.
Worldwide there are now over two hundred thousand wind turbines operating,
with a total nameplate capacity of 282,482 MW as of end 2012.
The European Union alone passed some 100,000 MW nameplate capacity in September 2012
while the United States surpassed 50,000 MW in August 2012
and China's grid connected capacity passed 50,000 MW the same month.
World wind generation capacity more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006,
doubling about every three years.
The United States pioneered wind farms
and led the world in installed capacity in the 1980s and into the 1990s.
In 1997 German installed capacity surpassed the U.S.
and led until once again overtaken by the U.S. in 2008.
China has been rapidly expanding its wind installations in the late 2000s
and passed the U.S. in 2010 to become the world leader.
Between 2005 and 2010 the average annual growth in new installations was 27.6%.
Wind power market penetration is expected to reach 3.35% by 2013 and 8% by 2018.
WIND ENERGY ATLAS
Environment Canada's Wind Energy Atlas web site aims at developing new
to be used by Canada's wind energy industry.
It offers the possibility to browse through the results of the numerical simulations
that were run on all of Canada in order to determine its wind energy potential.
Consultants and the general public will find here valuable data about this promising
MAP OF WIND STATISTICS
WHO IS HIRING AND WHERE ?
There are sites on the Internet that advertise directly for jobs in the wind energy field.
Many require specific training in engineering or related fields.
Not all jobs in the wind energy industry are on-site, and will be harder to find.
Manufacturing of wind turbines involves many industries to make and supply components
and erect the turbines. Over 400 companies are involved to some extent in the wind industry.
Those interested in exploring employment in the wind energy industry
should do their homework. The Internet is a good place to start.
The web can locate the major construction projects.
Specific jobs are often advertised in newspaper sites in the construction regions.
Other sites emphasize job training in wind energy.
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens began to promote the development
of a huge wind farm in Texas in 2008, spending billions of his own money
promoting the idea The plan was eventually scrapped
when Pickens announced that power transmission lines in Texas were not sufficient.
He maintains that he still plans to develop a wind warm in Canada.
Do not go where the path may lead
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail
Intellectuals solve problems
Geniuses prevent them
Until next time
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