Is the answer riding on the wind?

Juris Graney
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St. Anthony council eyeing alternative energy options

The wind farm at Renews.

St. Anthony — Could the Northern Peninsula be a new provider of wind power for the province? St. Anthony council thinks so, and are actively investigating whether it could use wind to add power to the provincial or North American market and whether, on a small scale, it could use wind to generate electricity for the future Polar Centre.

Being that Cape Norman, located near Cook’s Harbour, is regarded as having “one of the highest wind-resource regions in Canada,” the idea may not be a whole lot of hot air.

Mayor Ern Simms said council held discussions with Nalcor Energy last week to seek further direction on a 2009 technical paper produced by engineering students at Memorial University.

That paper investigated the potential of a 5.25-megawatt system and put forward the case that, on a technical basis at least, a wind farm would be ideal for the region.

The paper did not, however, contain a feasibility or economic study but Nalcor Energy business development manager Greg Jones said it looked at the wind farm idea several years back.

Jones agreed with the technical aspect of the paper, saying there was no question wind was plentiful in the region, but he said there are no plans to move forward.

Wind generation requires a large capital investment to build the turbines. That investment is offset by low operating costs, but to recoup the money the turbines need to produce as much power as possible.

“At the time of the study it wasn’t seen as feasible for a variety of reasons, mainly because of the province’s reliance on hydro reservoir, which means when the wind blows and generates power, the hydro reservoir backs up with water at which some point it needs to spill water,” he said.

“It doesn’t make sense to generate one kilowatt of wind but spill one kilowatt of hydro in an already developed resource.”

With Muskrat Falls and Newfoundland and Labrador’s connection to the North American market, however, there may be prospects for selling wind power generated in the future.

Simms said council will enter into discussions with the Canadian Wind Energy Association, a group that promotes the appropriate development and application of all aspects of wind energy, to investigate the financial implications of running smaller turbines.

“We were definitely interested in wind power and what it would cost to run a town, or run something in a town like the new arena,” he said.

Meanwhile, Simms’ message to Hydro is simple.

“We’ve got no shortage of wind,” he said.                  

“If they are looking at wind generation, then we hope that they look at this region for its high wind generation potential.

“It’s not something that’s lying down — we’re keeping our eye on it and we want to look at an opportunity to give us a chance to reduce cost at our facilities and we’d be keen for Hydro to come in and have a look.”

The Northern Pen

Organizations: North American, Nalcor Energy, Canadian Wind Energy Association

Geographic location: St. Anthony, Cape Norman, Canada Muskrat Falls Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • JMR
    March 28, 2011 - 17:34

    When I moved from Newfoundland to PEI, I was greatly impressed by the wind farms here. Send some representatives over to visit the North Cape, Summerside and the other windmill sites here. They'll see that even a small province can reap the benefits of alternative power. Imagine if some windmills were put out in Wreckhouse, they'd probably power the whole west coast! :)

  • Joey Smallwood Lives
    March 28, 2011 - 08:09

    NALCOR isn't interested in wind power because they've been told not to be.OUr government is our ignoring projects that would cost a fraction of and represent more efficient use of our capital than Muskrat Falls. It appears they are determined to develop that project at any cost. I think that they're going to die on that hill, most people do not see the value of doubling our power bills unnecessarily just to be a little greener.