Wind energy has been the most significant new segment of renewable energy added to Canada's energy resources in recent years. In 2005, Canada had 557 megawatts of wind energy capacity. By 2016, the nation had nearly 12,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity, representing 8.1% of total energy sources. Over two-thirds of Canada's energy-producing capacity comes from renewable sources. Most of Canada's renewable energy comes from hydroelectric power, but the second-largest renewable category is wind.
What is Wind Power?
Every time you feel a breeze, you're feeling wind energy. Energy from the sun creates differences in air pressure, which results in breezes or wind. About 1 to 2 percent of the sun's energy turns into winds, which can range from gentle breezes to strong easterly and westerly winds of 90 kilometers an hour. Wind energy, in terms of electrical power, refers to mechanical ways to transfer the wind's kinetic energy to electrical power that we can use to fuel lights, homes, businesses, and public facilities.
Wind energy for human use can come from utility-scale wind projects with large turbines that deliver power to the electrical grid. Smaller or distributed wind power uses individual wind turbines that can power a single home, farm, or small business. Offshore wind farms are built in large bodies of water. The wind turbines for offshore farms are more extensive than typical land-based wind turbines. They're capable of generating more power and take advantage of coastal winds that may constantly blow or nearly always.
How do Wind Farms Work?
Wind farms incorporate several large wind turbines that can generate at least 100 kilowatts of electricity up to megawatts of power. Modern power-generating wind turbines are tall structures (at least 80 meters) with three blades. The blades are attached to a nacelle, which is a streamlined housing with a gearbox, shaft, generator, and controls. The turbine's blades are optimized to capture the wind in the most efficient way.
The turbine's blades, which are turned by the wind transfer energy to the generator, which is then transmitted to the electrical grid, much like hydroelectric turbine blades power a hydroelectric generator. A wind farm differs from a single wind turbine because wind farm towers are placed together in an arrangement that maximizes their efficiency to collect wind power as a group. Together, the towers in a wind farm collect power from the wind and deliver it to the electrical grid. Wind farms can produce some level of usable electrical power about 90 percent of the time.
What are the Financial Benefits of Wind Power?
Wind farms can help make productive use of fallow land or land that isn't easily usable as farmland. Combining the benefits of clean energy production with independence from non-renewable energy sources offers long-term financial benefits. Wind energy is able to be brought online relatively quickly in contrast with some other renewable energy alternatives. It can benefit rural communities and First Nations communities by providing energy independence and returning power to the grid through net metering.
Wind projects can also provide clean energy jobs. Revenue from wind farms can be used to fund other economic development activities, strengthening local economies.
What are the Environmental Impacts of Wind Power?
Wind energy, as a clean, renewable energy source, addresses the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Every kilowatt that is generated can replace a kilowatt produced from greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels. As the cost of greenhouse gas emissions rises, wind energy will create more climate benefits. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind power has among the lowest environmental impacts of any energy source. It can save billions of gallons of water a year. Wind also requires no water to generate electricity and has a low impact on the land where turbines are erected. It leaves the majority of land undisturbed even in large wind farms.
Wind power is a zero-carbon emission energy source. In 2018 in North America, it eliminated carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 43 million cars. This technology has developed to the point where the typical wind farm project will repay the carbon footprint required to build it within six months or less. It also helps to cut toxic gas emissions from coal and petroleum-burning power plants, including sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Both of these gases are known as lung irritants and severely degrade the environment. Wind farms' low environmental impact extends to wildlife. While you may hear stories of wildlife being impacted by wind turbines, wind farms leave 98 percent of land undisturbed. Compared to coal-burning power plants, wind turbines do minimal, or no, harm to fish and wildlife.
Wind Energy in New Brunswick
Wind power was non-existent in New Brunswick in 2006, but by 2016, it accounted for 5.6% of the province's energy generation. New Brunswick can accommodate a number of new wind energy facilities, from individual wind turbines to wind farms. You can invest locally in these projects, as Naveco Power's expertise in designing wind projects can offer investment opportunities in New Brunswick / Fredericton with renewable energy. Building wind farms with modern wind energy technology can be cost-effective and support the local economy as well as a clean environment. Wind power is a technology that is coming into its own. It can contribute to New Brunswick's energy independence and economy and is a wise investment.