Wind Energy for the perplexed

Stewart C. Russell


growth of wind energy in Ontario

Figures from CanWEA.

This presentation is based on one I gave almost exactly a year ago. Last year, there was only one wind farm in Ontario. Now Ontario leads all the provinces on installed capacity. How did this happen?


“[It is not] utterly chimerical to think of wind superseding coal in some places for a very important part of its present duty—that of giving light.”

 — Lord Kelvin

This talk does not represent the views of EPCOR, any of Stewart Russell's former employers, or anyone but the author.

Wind Energy Isn't Alternative

wind turbine, canadian tire
If one can buy wind turbines in Canadian Tire, then it's hardly an alternative technology.


Quotation from the Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary from the 1870s.

The traditional windmill

Pitstone Windmill, Bedfordshire

Pitstone Windmill, Bedfordshire - Photo Credit: Michael Reeve.

Some things to do with a windmill

The American farm wind pump

farm wind pump
This one was made in Ontario, and was on display at the 2005 Markham Fair.

The Chicago Wind Pump

Typical Wind Turbine Configuration

Siemens 2300 nacelle

photo credit: Siemens

Alternative: Direct Drive Wind Turbine

Lagerwey nacelle

photo credit: Americas Wind Energy

The Also-Ran: Darrieus VAWT

Darrieus turbine

photo credit: Atlantic Wind Test Site, via CanWEA.

Despite extensive research work in Canada and abroad, the vertical axis wind turbine has never been a commercial success. It won't self-start, shows variable torque throughout its rotation, and tends to suffer from fatigue. Its ability to accept wind from any direction is less of an advantage than you'd think; in strong (useful) winds, the wind pretty much comes from the same direction.

Turbine Size: Tiny - Marlec 50W

Marlec WindCharger

Turbine Size: Small - Bergey 10kW

Bergey 10kW Excel

Turbine Size: Utility: Vestas DWT 400kW

Carland Cross, Cornwall, UK

Turbine Size: Huge - RePower 5MW

photo credit: RePower

Wind Turbine Energy Capture

How Turbines Have Grown

Vestas Turbine Size

figure credit: Vestas

Energy yield has increased 42x in 21 years. That's over 19%/year, or doubling in less than 4 years. Not quite Moore's Law, but pretty nifty for rotating plant ...

Other applications

koenders wind pump

Wind Energy in Ontario

Until 2005, had only had a token presence, including:

Ontario RFP Winners

Ontario RFP Winners

Image credit: OPA

2004 RFP winners

  • Erie Shores Wind Farm, Erie Shores Wind Farm L.P. (Port Burwell), 99 megawatts
  • Prince Wind Farm, Superior Wind Energy Inc. (Prince Township, near Sault Ste. Marie), 99 megawatts
  • Melancthon Grey Wind Project, Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. (Shelburne), 67.5 megawatts
  • Blue Highlands Wind Farm, Superior Wind Energy Inc. (Blue Mountains), 49.5 megawatts
  • Kingsbridge Wind Power Project, EPCOR (Goderich), 39.6 megawatts

2005 RFP II winners:

  • Kingsbridge II Wind Power Project, Epcor Power Development (Ontario) Limited Partnership [Goderich], 158.7 MW.
  • Kruger Energy Port Alma, Kruger Energy Port Alma Ltd Partnership [Port Alma], 101.2 MW.
  • Leader Wind Power Project A, Leader Wind Corps (Enbridge) [Kincardine], 100.65 MW.
  • Leader Wind Power Project B, Leader Wind Corps (Enbridge) [Kincardine], 99 MW.
  • Melancthon II Wind Project, Canadian Hydro Developers [Shelburne], 132 MW.
  • Prince II Wind Power Project, Brascan Power Wind - Prince II (Brascan Power) [Sault Ste. Marie], 90 MW.
  • Ripley Wind Power Project, Suncor Energy Products Inc and EHN Windpower Canada Inc. [Ripley], 76 MW.
  • Wolfe Island Wind Project, Canadian Renewable Energy Corps (Canadian Hydro Developers) [Kingston], 197.8 MW.

More updates on


windshare wind turbine, Toronto

Why and how of WindShare:

  • because we could do it
  • because we should do it
  • we're disconnected from the sources of generation, and should consider the consequences
  • it's a cool landmark
  • because people wanted it
  • 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
  • part of community wind farm development, LakeWind

Building a Wind Farm

You will need:

  1. land
  2. transmission
  3. wind resource
  4. permitting/environmental assessment

Wind Siting: Selection

So how do you find good land?

wind thrown tree

photo credit: Vestas

Wind Siting: Wind Map

Ontario Wind Atlas Example

You'll note the highest winds over the lakes

Wind Siting: Offshore

Siemens Offshore

photo credit: Siemens

Power Purchase

Power Purchase: RFP

Power Purchase: Standard Offer

Transmission Problems

Ontario Standard Offer Constraints

Image Credit: OPA.

Ontario does not have enough transmission lines to get power from where it's generated to where it's used.

Barriers & Opportunities

Mistakes were made …

Visual Clutter


photo credit: Stan Shebs

Barriers to Wind

Opportunities for Wind

One of the advantages of coming late to the party is that Canada can learn from other countries' experience.

Wind is Germany's single largest user of steel.

Credits / Acknowledgements

The Michael Reeve and Stan Shebs photos are open content licensed, and are taken from Wikipedia.


Evening at Kingsbridge
Photo Credit: Dan Hayden, EPCOR.