On-Grid Case Studies
Here are some examples of on-grid small wind turbines in Canada and the United States.
Home near Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada
This home was designed by TRUE-NORTH Power Systems and built by Sheldon Weatherhead Construction in Lion's Head Ontario in approximately four months, during the spring and early summer of 2002. In-floor heating and domestic hot water are provided by nine Stebel Eltron thermal solar panels (total 18 kW) and supplemented in winter with a Rinnai propane on-demand water heater sized 180,000 BTU. All essential circuits including solar heating system, circulation pumps, as well as Rinnai backup, solar and inverter electronics are powered separately by a Lakota wind turbine (see photo on right; courtesy TRUE-NORTH Power Systems) and any excess power production is fed to the rest of the house through the non-essential power panel.
The home is a proof-of-concept design for a "Near-Zero Emissions" dwelling that can operate around 45 degrees north latitude and consume the least amount of fossil fuels possible. Ultimately it's wind and solar collection systems will also produce hydrogen fuel, with enough energy to run the family vehicles with near zero emissions. Near-Zero Emissions is not an exact number but rather a practical goal with current technology that seeks to minimize pollution without limiting lifestyle. Currently the only fossil fuel emissions come from the Rinnai propane heater that operates only 4-5 months of the year with 82% efficiency, and then only when there is insufficient solar or wind energy.
University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada (1.5 kW)
The University of Toronto, in conjunction with True North Power Systems installed Canada's first inner city "Urbine" across from the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). It is one of the first small turbines to be sited in an urban setting. This installation will help researchers evaluate actual small wind turbine energy production, under real urban micro-weather conditions. Inner city wind is very turbulent and even more unpredictable than normal small wind locations. Unfortunately little real data exists on small wind energy production in the city.
Isolated Grid Community near Haekel Hill, Yukon Territory, Canada (150 kW turbine)
In 1992 and 1993, the Yukon Energy Corporation, a government-owned utility of the Yukon Territory, Canada installed a 150 kW Bonus Mark III wind turbine (seen to the right, courtesy of Yukon Energy Corporation; also seen in background of photo below). It was installed on Haeckel Hill, a shoulder of Mt. Sumanik, at 1,430 m, about 750 m above the valley floor where the Territory’s capital of Whitehorse is located. The total project costs, not including pre-feasibility phases, was about $800,000. A track leading up the mountain to a fire lookout tower was upgraded to a road, and the existing single-phase power line was upgraded at a cost of $170,000 (included in the total amount).
The turbine manufacturer, Bonus A/S of Denmark, was highly involved in the implementation of the project. The turbine was modified to include after-market leading edge blade heaters, heated wind monitoring sensors on the turbine (used for control purposes), and a tilt-up tower system (to avoid crane requirements). The low-voltage, 3-phase electricity generated by the turbine is transformed to 25 kV and delivered to the Whitehorse isolated grid.
The wind turbine has experienced significant icing events, and has proven to be a very important testing platform for icing mitigation technologies. The project is considered a success, and as a result Yukon Energy Corporation installed a 660 kW Vestas wind turbine in 2000 (seen foreground in the photo to the right, courtesy Yukon Energy Corporation), in order to assess the possibility of a utility scale windfarm on Mt. Sumanik.
The Whitehorse grid, which is isolated from Canada's national electrical grid, includes over 500 km of transmission line, 75 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric capacity, 40 MW of diesel generator capacity, and the relatively small 0.8 MW of wind turbine capacity provided at Haeckel Hill.
Northern wind sites have additional challenges, in terms of severe weather conditions (such as rime icing), extended cold temperatures, available equipment and logistics. In some communities in the far North, there may be only one annual delivery of goods – meaning project management for a wind facility must be 100% on time!