After a two-year delay, Toronto Hydro hopes to have a device moored on Lake Ontario this fall to test the breeze for a wind farm 2 kilometres off the Scarborough Bluffs.
The goal, says Toronto Hydro chief executive Dave O’Brien, is to establish a 60-turbine offshore wind farm capable of generating 100 megawatts.
It should take two years of collecting and analyzing wind-speed data to learn whether the project makes economic sense, O’Brien told councillors is a briefing yesterday. The City of Toronto is the utility’s sole shareholder.
Toronto Hydro first proposed the idea two years ago, but the Ontario government placed a moratorium on offshore wind projects. The moratorium was recently lifted.
The wind measurement instrument, or anemometer, would rise only 3 metres above the water’s surface but would measure the wind speed at 30 metres, the height of the turbine blades.
“We hope by October-November we’ll have it in place,” O’Brien said in an interview.
Winds out on the lake tend to blow more steadily, he said.
The intended site, off the bluffs, is ideal because a natural reef rises from the lake bed there, he said. The water is only about 10 metres deep, making it much easier to anchor turbines on the bottom.
O’Brien said the lake is much deeper elsewhere along the Toronto shoreline, so there won’t be a string of turbines extending from Scarborough to Etobicoke.
It would take two to three years to chart wind speeds, get regulatory approval and install the wind farm, O’Brien said.
The turbines contemplated would be much bigger than the 0.75-megawatt turbine in operation at Exhibition Place, generating 1.5 to 2 megawatts each.
O’Brien said Toronto Hydro would like to move more aggressively into alternate power sources.
Just as the city has been given unique powers because of its size and the complexity of issues it faces, Toronto Hydro should be given more authority, he said.
The utility has limited control over generating electricity, controlling high-voltage transmission lines and setting conservation programs, he said.
If it were given that authority by the Ontario Energy Board, “then we don’t have to worry about Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, the Ontario Power Authority, all that stuff,” he said.
“We can engage the community of Toronto in these solutions.”
City Hall Bureau
25 June 2008