Facing recent restrictions on building new renewable energy projects in the area, Suncor Energy, the Alberta-based company that erected a test tower in McKillop over a year ago, will continue to move forward with testing, says Chris Scott, renewable energy engineer with the company.
The tests are being done to determine if four county blocks in McKillop, bordered by Hydro Line Road, Roxboro Line, Hensall Road and Summerhill Road, would be a suitable location for a 40-tower wind farm.
Under the current restrictions, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) says they will only sign onto contracts with micro-scale generators, that produce no greater than 10 kilowatts.
Scott says a wind farm the size they are considering for McKillop, would be “well above that.”
“At this time we are trying to determine how these restrictions will affect us,” says Scott, who adds Suncor is currently in the process of discussing the matter with the OPA to determine how long these restrictions may be in effect.
Suncor, which erected the tower in June of 2005 andhas collected nearly a year and a half of data, initially estimated the testing would take close to two years, but Scott says it’s now possible they still might collect data for another year or more.
“The data has shown a good wind speed, but we want to see further results before we rush into it,” he says, adding they will have a much better understanding of the area’s wind patterns once they’ve analyzed and compared data from this upcoming winter’s months, with results from last winter.
One area in particular Scott says they want to gather more information on is turbulence in the wind.
Too much turbulence could damage a turbine’s blades and would result in very expensive maintenance repairs,” Scott says.
“We just don’t know if that’s the case right now,” he adds.
Scott says environmental studies also need to be completed on the area, but that none have been started yet.
Scott says if all of the data proves favourable, the next step would be to submit an application to the OPA, if that will be an option at the time.
He adds it could still be two to three months after submitting an application to the OPA before they’d hear back.
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