Off-grid wind turbines for remote communities

The Wind Energy Group is currently involved in a project to develop a reliable wind turbine power system for remote Northern Ontario communities. Our contribution is in wind energy and the development of a remote wind turbine. The project is sponsored by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).

The test community for this project is Kasabonika, Ontario, located approximately 600km due north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Kasabonika is accessible only by airplane and by frozen winter road which is open only for a few weeks per year. The community of approximately 1000 inhabitants currently generates its electricity from three small diesel generators operated by Hydro One Remote Communities (HORC). Diesel is driven in during the winter at a cost of $1/litre and if the winter road is impassable, diesel is flown in at a cost of $1.70/litre. The community uses several hundred thousand litres of diesel per year.

The motivation to install wind turbines in this remote community is both economic and environmental. Firstly, since the cost of diesel is significant, wind turbines will lower the cost of energy for this community. Secondly, with less diesel needed for energy the risk of a diesel spill is reduced.

The Wind Energy Group are planning to install a meteorological (met) tower at Kasabonika to measure the wind in the region and to determine how many wind turbines can be installed. We will then be able to predict how much energy will be produced. We are currently working with Wenvor Technologies to modify their existing wind turbine for the harsh Northern Ontario Environment. The turbine is identical to the turbine located at the University of Waterloo test site.