Carland Cross Windfarm, Cornwall, UK

Wind Energy, Appropriate Energy

or, thank you for not mentioning that Bob Dylan song

Stewart C. Russell

What I'm Going To Cover

How To Build A Windfarm

You will need:

Actually, there should be a zero'th point there: money. You don't need all your project finance upfront to start off with, but optioning land, legal fees, wind resource and environmental assessment can be costly.

Windfarm: Land

Windfarm: Transmission

Paul Gipe's books cover wind turbine aesthetics in great detail. Wind Power In View is entirely on this subject.

Windfarm: Power Purchase

More about the spot market is at

Windfarm: Wind Resource

  • initial pointers: wind map, local effects (tree flagging/absence)
  • need to measure on site for at least a year, at several different heights
  • don't only measure at the highest point on the site; find somewhere average

Windfarm: Transportation

  • if you can't get the turbines and maintenance vehicles to the site …
  • factor in the cost of shipping; many turbines come from Europe
  • aside: offshore wind takes transportation logistics to extremes

aside to the aside: although there are active plans for wind resource asessment on Mars

Windfarm: Environmental Impact

  • locate and avoid sensitive areas and habitats
  • acoustics: turbines are machinery, and Ontario has a well-distributed rural population
  • setbacks: there are minimum distances from houses, buildings, roads, airports, … set at federal/provincial/county/municipal levels

In the Ontario windfarms I've been designing, acoustic design is the most complex part.

WindShare to MindShare

    windshare wind turbine, Toronto
  • why?
  • what?
  • how?

WindShare: Why?

    windshare wind turbine, Toronto
  • because we could
  • because we should
  • we're disconnected from the sources of generation, and should consider the consequences
  • it's a cool landmark
  • because people wanted it

WindShare: What?

    windshare wind turbine, Toronto
  • currently own half of a 750kW wind turbine at ExPlace; other half owned by Toronto Hydro
  • community coop with ~400 members
  • members invest, and get dividends from sale of power
  • looking to expand share in turbine and build another turbine, and/or be part of community windfarm, LakeWind

WindShare: How?

    windshare wind turbine, Toronto
  • started building community support in 1997
  • unbelievable amount of permitting and bureaucracy required before building
  • secured various grants from federal/provincial/city bodies
  • first share issue 2002
  • turbine built December 2002 – January 2003
  • our co-op model now in use by groups associated with OSEA, and worldwide

Wind Energy for Remote Power

  • every site/situation is different
  • it doesn't have to be electric
  • storage of generation
  • complementary technologies
  • example: Hugh Piggott's turbine

Non-electric options

    farm windmill
  • the old wind pump: reliable, simple, low maintenance, not very efficient but provides huge local benefit
  • koenders wind pump
  • pond aeration: prevents stagnation, for agriculture or pisciculture

Energy storage

  • storing electricity is hard; electrons leak, batteries are heavy
  • follow the soft energy path: store the products of that energy, such as potable water, ground flour

Amory Lovins's concept of a Soft Energy Path basically states that we don't merely want energy, but we want the facility that energy provides.

Complementary technologies

    Fair Isle
  • Wind / Diesel: Fair Isle, Shetland Isles
  • Wind / Hydro: Foula, Shetland Isles

Hugh Piggott's Wind Turbine

    a hugh piggot-designed wind turbine
  • Scoraig, where Hugh lives, is remote and windy
  • hand made wooden blades, welded steel tail furling mechanism
  • stator/rotor originally made from a truck drum brake, now hand-fabricated for larger machines
  • plans are available, as are workshops


  • the wind will always be with us
  • using wind power challenges us technically, and as a society
  • not to use renewable energy to our fullest capacity is grossly negligent.

Credits / Acknowledgements

  • Jim Salmon, Zephyr North Ltd.
  • Paul Gipe
  • WindShare, OSEA, and TREC
  • Hugh Piggott, for the photos
  • awea-windnet mailing list
  • the people of Fair Isle

Further reading

  • just about anything by Paul Gipe,
  • The Renewable Energy Handbook for Homeowners, by William Kemp
  • Windpower Workshop, by Hugh Piggott
  • Wind Energy Handbook (pub John Wiley & Sons, 2001.) — theory-laden and very large, this is a very complete technical reference