a little bit on the toronto offshore wind farm and the Hélimax study

Many people (such as 1, 2, 3, 4) cite the Hélimax study Analysis of Future Offshore Wind Farm Development in Ontario [PDF] as a good reason not to even measure wind speeds off the Toronto shoreline. I would be quite surprised if most commenters had read it, as it’s not a light read, but there are three basic reasons that the report doesn’t apply:

  1. The report is not prescriptive; it does not outline the only viable sites in the Great Lakes. Indeed, the very last paragraph of the executive summary says “… it should be emphasized that the sites … selected do not necessarily correspond to the projects currently being developed. This report by no means seeks to disparage any sites currently under development which are not part of the 64 sites selected. There are wind power projects that can be feasibly developed beyond the sites that are identified in the present study.” A statement like that leads me to believe that the report was intended for capacity planning, and not site selection.
  2. The report specifically excludes Lake Ontario around the GTA on population density, even though it notes “… utilities generally prefer to have power generation close to population centres” [p.10]. Simply put, if Toronto Hydro wishes to bring wind power into Toronto, it can either have local generation where everyone sees it, or remote generation with pylons that everyone can see. Pick one.
  3. The mesoscale modelling that the report relies upon is unproven offshore: “… the accuracy of mean wind speeds derived from onshore mesomaps is generally assumed to be ±7%, the precision of such maps for offshore applications is not well known” [p.4]. ±7% for a mean wind speed means a lot more than seven percent in energy yield – that’s roughly good enough to tell you where you might want to start doing site selection. Indeed, the report confirms this: “… on-site meteorological measurements are required to perform a truly judicious assessment of the local wind resource and ensuing energy yields of a given site”.

So that about wraps it up for the Hélimax study pertaining to Toronto.

Others have commented that the low capacity factors of the Pickering and ExPlace turbines. Despite that fact that capacity factors for a given site are highly machine specific, there are some issues here too:

  • Both sites are near large buildings which disrupt air flow. This issue goes away even a moderate distance offshore.
  • Both sites are really demonstrators, and positioned for maximum public exposure rather than generation.
  • The Pickering Vestas V80 was a very early model of its type, and needed a lot of TLC to get operating. I wouldn’t call it quite a prototype, but it’s not far off.
  • The Pickering turbine is designed for windy (Class I) sites. It has shorter blades (80m diameter) and a bigger generator (1.8MW) than the turbines I’m most familiar with (82m diameter, 1.65MW). It will catch less wind and thus drive the generator less hard (quick, you come up with a better analogy for capacity factor … I couldn’t) than a Class II or III machine.
  • The Explace turbine has smaller blades than it was supposed to – the supplier ceased trading before they were able to replace the interim 52m blade set with 58m ones. As the tower was designed for longer blades, the turbine can never be run at full speed or full generation.
  • Due to the closure of Lagerwey, the ExPlace turbine has never had what I’d class as an industry-standard maintenance contract. The joint venture of TH and WindShare volunteers directs the maintenance, but there’s no permanent crew like a commercial operation would have.

So put that lidar out in the lake, and let’s see what we’ve got.

Rum Do At WindShare

WindShare‘s having a special general meeting tonight to discuss the following resolution:

Moved that the Board of WindShare recommends to the WindShare I membership at their general meeting of June 7, 2006, the merger of WindShare I and WindShare II for the purpose of entering into the activities necessary for the development of the proposed Lakewind Proposal.

This is quite an important step, and since I’m still in Pittsburgh, I’d hoped to vote by proxy. I was informed by the WindShare administrator that this wasn’t possible; the Cooperative Corporations Act does not allow proxy voting.
I’m annoyed by this, as it looks like WindShare is going to merge its capital with a 10MW project being built on a site with a 6.5 m/s mean wind speed. I wouldn’t develop a project on a site with this low a wind speed, so I asked the following of the board:

Can you clarify, please, that the vote can only be carried if a majority of WindShare members are present at the meeting? It would be grossly unfair if an important vote like this one was carried by a minority.

I would also like to have questions brought to the board, and if possible, the meeting itself. The LakeWind information package states that Bervie has “an average wind speed of 6.5m/s … making this an excellent site for Ontario”. I would not consider a site having this wind resource to be excellent, and it would certainly not be one that would attract a commercial developer. So my questions are:

  • Is it in the membership’s best interests to develop a relatively low wind site? WindShare made their political point with the ExPlace turbine, and now we must show that community wind is economically viable.
  • Would either of the potential sites be forced to curtail output when/if the extra Bruce units come online? While LakeWind would be connecting to local distribution, any generation in that area might be subject to queueing limitations.

So far, I’ve heard nothing, which makes me uneasy.

no standard offer goodness for WindShare

Tallking to the OPA today, it seems that WindShare doesn’t qualify for SOC because it’s behind ExPlace’s meter. Aargh!

Update: I got a call from the OPA; they were wrong. Grandfathered embedded generation such as the WindShare turbine will be eligible after all.

They put up a gas station at our wind turbine!

Pump facia at hydrogen gas station, Ex Place
Okay, so maybe it’s a hydrogen gas station for a demonstrator fuel cell car, but it’s still a big ugly gas station. I think it spoils the lines of the park in which the WindShare turbine is cited.

More pictures here: http://scruss.com/gallery/wind

happy birthday, WindShare

windshare birthday cake

The WindShare/Toronto Hydro wind turbine was officially one year old yesterday. Coincidentally, we’ve generate 1,000,000 kWh, too.

There was a big event at Liberty Grand at the CNE. The cake was particularly good.