Tuesday, 14 December 2010

St. Joseph wind farm

In case you weren't aware, a new wind farm is springing out of the frozen tundra south of Winnipeg. It is just west of Hwy 75 near the town of St. Joseph, and it is about 35% larger than the St. Leon wind farm and will be the largest wind farm built in Canada this year, according to Manitoba Hydro.

They are going hard, working on that thing. I counted at least five cranes raising 5 different turbines, a few dozen already built and many more in various stages of completion. They really are quite a marvelous thing up close. The blades are over 50 yards from tip to hub, gracefully curving and reshaping the entire length. The total span of the blades would be about the same as a football field. It's hard to imagine these monsters being turned by nothing more than air.

Some pics:


I see they chose the Siemens X5600 flux capacitor. Good choice...

Ow ow ow my head is stuck. O0oo nice bearings!


This whole wind farm almost didn't happen. The original partners, Babcock & Brown of Australia, went bankrupt. The liquidated North American assets of B&B ended up in a firm called Pattern Energy, the current partner. This deal with Pattern only happened because Hydro threw them a $260 million line of credit.

It is hard to evaluate this deal because it is not straight forward, and as usual we don't have all of the information. I tried to make sense of it back in March. I am not going to redo all of those calculations, but knowing now that the going rate for hydro exports is somewhere around $0.03 / kwh, the break-even $0.08 / kwh I came up with back then doesn't look so spectacular. I don't doubt that there are errors in my assumptions or calculations as I was likely drunk when I wrote that. If anybody out there has better info please let me know.

There are benefits too: in the jobs created and money spent locally, and in having a more diversified energy grid.

2 comments:

Reed Solomon said...

negative attributes of wind farms include possible interference in reception (OTA television, radio, among others). and dead birds for some reason.

cherenkov said...

Ya, dead birds too ... I have heard about those from a friend near St. Leon.

On my other post, a commenter posted a link to a Youtube video of a condor or vulture getting smacked by a blade.

 
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