Canadian Consulting Engineer

Wind turbine begins turning at Pickering Nuclear Station

Efforts to promote renewable energy in Canada are gaining momentum, with one very visible symbol making its appear...

August 29, 2001   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Efforts to promote renewable energy in Canada are gaining momentum, with one very visible symbol making its appearance east of Toronto’s waterfront. On August 29 Ontario Power Generation officially opened the largest wind turbine in North America at the Pickering Nuclear facility beside Lake Ontario.
The Vesta 1.8 MW turbine is a prototype unit that will be continuously monitored. Made in Denmark, it is as high as a 30 storey building, measuring 117 metres from ground to the highest blade. The three blades are 39 metres long, hollow and made of fibreglass composite.
At the top of the tower the blades are attached to a nacelle which is the size of a bus and contains the generator, the transmission, gearbox and controls. Blades and nacelle turn at a constant 15.7 revolutions per minute when operating, but the amount of electricity produced varies on the strength and quality of the winds. The turbine is expected to generate power 60-80% of the time, has a 1.8 MW capacity, and at full power could supply about 1,800 homes. The power is distributed to the grid in underground cables. However, Ontario Power Generation warn this green power is expensive – two or three times the wholesale price of normal electricity.
Wind power is the fastest growing sources of electricity generation in the world, and has grown around 25% in the past five years. Meanwhile, solar energy and photovoltaic systems are also gaining ground. A new solar PV cell that uses concentrated sunlight recently achieved a record conversion efficiency of 35% per cent in lab tests monitored by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This result makes the cell the first to exceed the goal of the U.S. Department of Energy Third-of-a-Sun initiative. SolarAccess.com reports that the award-winning cell is made by Spectrolab, a Los Angeles company recently bought by Boeing. It is estimated that if the cells were manufactured at a mega-scale, their manufacturing costs could be brought down to about 50 cents per watts eventually, competitive with conventional power generation.
Renewable energy has also just got a boost from unexpected quarters in Canada — the financial community. On August 29, the Bank of Montreal announced that the Jones Heward Investment Counsel group, one of its group of member companies, has set up a new division to invest in sustainable development. The group will invest in companies that quantifiably practice sustainable development and create long term shareholder value.


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