I would like to thank Chuck Tobin of the Star and Jacqueline Ronson of the Yukon News for their coverage of the Yukon Energy LNG hearing last week. This is an important issue for all Yukoners and the good newspaper coverage was much appreciated.
In one article the Chuck recalls the cold windless day of January 29, 2006 when one of the power cables at the Aishihik power plant failed and the entire grid went down and we relied on lot of back-up diesel power for two days, and more than normal for a few months afterwards until permanent repairs were completed. Those of us who were here at the time would recall the event too.
What is interesting to note about this situation is this, although it generally is not windy in Whitehorse when the weather is very cold, the wind generally is blowing at the higher altitudes like Haeckel Hill, or Mt. Sumanik, or Ferry Hill (Tehcho) in the cold of winter more often than not.
Haeckel Hill has two test wind turbines now and Mt. Sumanik and Ferry Hill could have wind farms built on them.
From January 29 to 31, 2006 when it was cold and we had the power emergency with the Aishihik power plant shut down, the wind was blowing steadily up there according to Environment Canada’s weather balloon data.
During this critical period the wind speed at the altitude of Haeckel Hill and Mt. Sumanik ranged from 8.7 to 12 meters per second (m/s). This means that a 20-megawatt wind farm would have been producing from 8 to 19 MW (based on Enercon E82 2MW wind turbines) during this crisis period. Just imagine how much diesel that would have saved us!
Analyzing the wind speeds from Environment Canada’s weather balloon data for the 13-year period from 2000 to 2012 yields the following interesting characteristics about a 20 MW wind farm should there have been one there:
Annual average output 5.6 MW (wind about 7.2 m/s);
When -30 C or colder in Whitehorse, average output 6.2 MW (7.5 m/s);
October to May average output 7.1 MW (7.9 m/s);
December to March average output 8.6 MW (8.5 m/s); and
June through August average output 2.5 MW (5.3 m/s).
It is true that some of this will be lost due to icing and we cannot turn the wind on and off when as we want it or need it, but it can reliably provide a lot of energy in the winter each and every year when we most need it. And it provides much less in summer when we hardly need it.
Best of all, like water for hydro, the wind is free.
Wind energy as part of our winter energy supply is cost effective and it can and should be part of our renewable energy supply.