Wind energy mapping system enables optimum siting for turbines
WindScope, a new leading-edge wind energy mapping software, was formally unveiled October 18 by federal Environment Minister StÈphane Dion at the Canadian Wind Energy Association's (CanWEA) annual wind energy conference. By providing the science and technology to perform pinpoint wind energy studies. WindScope will enable users to determine the ideal location to install wind turbines, thus helping make the wind energy sector more energy efficient.
WindScope is a small-scale wind-mapping system whose finer resolution grid makes it possible to assess an area ranging from one kilometre down to an area as small as 100 metres in size. This, in turn allows wind location studies to be made much faster, with greater confidence and certainty, and at a lower cost than was previously possible.
The WindScope system is part of EOLE, a continuing collaborative research project between Environment Canada and the National Research Council's Canadian Hydraulics Centre, with funding from Natural Resources Canada. It began in 2000 with the goal of developing new meteorological tools to be used by the wind energy industry in Canada and abroad. WindScope was developed as a complementary tool to the Canadian Wind Energy Atlas, released in September 2004.
WindScope is now being made available to the private sector. Potential users include power utilities and private-sector engineering or consulting firms with the required computational infrastructure and wind energy expertise.
The system incorporates Environment Canada's meso-scale MC2 model and more than 50 years of climatological data. It is capable of evaluating wind potential at any turbine height (e.g. 60 or 110 metres). Working on Windows/XP Professional, WindScope functions in a fully interactive environmental simulation and Geographic Information System (GIS) framework, and includes complete self-tutorial and documentation.
CanWEA president Robert Hornung told the conference that "2005 will be remembered as the year Canada first started to seriously exploit its massive wind energy potential." And while this has been a banner year for Canada's wind energy industry, he said it is clear that the best is yet to come. By 2013, Canada's installed capacity of wind energy will have increased tenfold to 7,000 MW - enough to power over 1.8 million homes - and a significant acceleration over the 30% annual growth rates witnessed in the last five years.
"Wind energy is real business and it is growing in all regions of the country - providing jobs and investment in rural communities throughout Canada. The attendance at our conference clearly illustrates that wind energy is increasingly viewed as a solid investment opportunity in Canada's business community," said Hornung.
While this is a positive development, he added that "now is not the time to be complacent. Even if Canada's total installed capacity reaches 7,000 MW in eight years time - which we think it will - this still represents just 3% of Canada's total electricity demand.
'Other countries such as Denmark and Germany already meet 18% and 6% of their electricity needs through wind energy and they are working to increase those figures. It is my hope that all stakeholders can work together to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy in Canada," Hornung concluded.
CanWEA has more than 200 corporate members representing wind turbine and component manufacturers, electric utilities, wind energy project developers (including several of Canada's leading energy companies), and service providers to the wind energy industry. The association aims to have 10,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity in Canada by 2010.