Wind power is not quite an energy cure all

When wind power goes head-to-head with hydroelectricity, there really is no competition; hydropower is easier and cheaper to produce, said Janet…

When wind power goes head-to-head with hydroelectricity, there really is no competition; hydropower is easier and cheaper to produce, said Janet Patterson of the Yukon Energy Corporation.

“People think that the Yukon would be a great place to have wind power because we’re so windy but the wind tends to be localized,” said Patterson.

“You can have a good source of wind on one mountain and not another.

“The challenge is to find enough wind.”

The two wind turbines on Haeckel Hill in Whitehorse are only 20 per cent effective, she said, and to be economically viable they need to be at least 33 per cent effective.

Another problem with the wind turbines is that their rotor blades ice up in the winter causing mechanical failure.

“We’ve tried heating the blades and we’ve tried special paint but nothing keeps all the ice away,” said Patterson.

Finally, she said, hydroelectricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt-hour while wind power costs 30 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“The economics just aren’t there,” said Patterson.

“If we were burning diesel all the time, then wind power would make more sense because diesel fuel is so expensive, but we already have a cheap and ‘green’ source of energy in hydropower so the economics just aren’t there.”

Northwestel, however, is in a position to take advantage of wind power.

In June of last year, the telephone company installed a wind turbine at the remote Quiet Lake microwave site located off South Canol Road between Johnson’s Crossing and Ross River.

The alternative energy project is showing signs of success, said Northwestel spokesperson Anne Kennedy.

The microwave radio equipment at the site is powered by large rechargeable batteries, which in the past were charged periodically by diesel generators.

Since the wind turbine was installed, any available wind energy is used first to charge the batteries; this delays the start of the diesel generators and saves Northwestel money in diesel costs.

After only a few months of turbine operation, Northwestel workers visiting the site found that diesel fuel consumption had been cut approximately in half, reducing costs by more than $1,100 during that time period.

The company estimates that at that rate, the wind turbine would produce cost savings of approximately $5,000 per year, depending on the price of fuel.

“We are hoping that this will prove to be a win-win project, both environmentally and financially,” said Northwestel’s president, Paul Flaherty, in a release.

“Cost savings should result from reduced reliance on diesel fuel at the site, fewer trips to fly in fuel, and less wear and tear on our diesel engines.

“The use of a completely renewable energy source at this site should also be good for the environment, because less fuel will be needed for our generators and for transportation of diesel.”

The company will evaluate the performance of the Quiet Lake wind turbine again this spring after workers are able to fly into the site.

The Quiet Lake microwave site provides telecommunications for a highway maintenance camp, emergency services such as RCMP and ambulance and some high frequency radio users in the area.

“The wind turbine idea could be used at other remote sites as well,” said Flaherty in the release, however, Kennedy said the technology doesn’t suit every Northwestel site.

“They have to be installed in areas where you definitely get dependable, reliable, air currents — so that doesn’t suit every site,” she said.

“We would tend to use this type of technology at sites that are less active, more remote and have a dependable wind source.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read