Sea Breeze Power Corp. is moving forward with the construction of its first wind farm on a plateau on northern Vancouver Island, after signing a deal with International Power Canada Inc.
“We chose this area because there is a lack of wildlife and birds,” said Paul Manson, president and CEO of Sea Breeze.
“One of the reasons for the lack of wildlife is the location is windy and there is no forest.”
The Knob Hill site is located 35 km northwest of Port Hardy on an elevated plateau within the traditional territories of the Quatsino, Tlatlasikwala, and Kwakiutl First Nations.
It faces the open Pacific Ocean, so it has a high average wind speed and good exposure to prevailing southerly and westerly winds.
“The project will be built in difficult coastal marine bog type terrain, which is a shallow bog that caps granite bedrock,” Manson said.
“The bog has protected the granite from oxidation, so we have strong foundation rock for the construction of the foundation. The objective is to utilize a construction method that protects the bog ecosystem.”
For example, access to the future wind farm is currently through the existing forest service roads, which are maintained by the Ministry of Forests, as well as roads that were built and maintained by Western Forest Products.
These roads will need to be upgraded to permit the transport of heavy loads during the construction phase.
It will also be necessary to build new roads using proven practices for design and construction of resource roads through wetlands.
These roads will also contain wider areas at the turbine locations to make way for foundations.
Site preparation will involve stripping off the organics and overburden soils to expose either the dense glacial till or bedrock surface.
The depth of the organic soils and overburden is likely less than a metre for many tower locations.
Turbine foundations will be constructed by pouring cement into forms that contain steel reinforcement.
Depending on geotechnical conditions, some foundations will be bolted to the bedrock.
Current plans are for concrete to be mixed at a batch plant off-site near Holberg.
Deliveries by concrete trucks, during foundation construction, would occur about 10 times a day for a period of two days per foundation.
The turbine towers will be erected by bolting cylindrical sections to the foundation and to themselves, after the foundation is cured for 30 days.
The turbine nacelles will be mounted to the tops of towers. The rotors, which are made up of three blades attached to a central hub, will probably be assembled on the ground and raised to the top of the tower by a crane.
A substation will be constructed within the wind farm to prepare the electricity for connection to the existing transmission grid.
The main component of the substation will be a transformer that will convert the 33 kV AC electricity collected from the wind farm into 138 kV AC electricity to be transported off-site.
The compound will also house a concrete pad roughly 10m by 10m to support the transformer.
A switchyard will be constructed to allow access to the grid for any future wind farms constructed in the region.
Before the switchyard is erected, the clearing will serve as a staging area to aid in the installation of the transmission lines and transmission towers, to reduce the impact to the surrounding forest.
“We are extremely pleased that International Power Canada, Inc. has chosen to invest in the Knob Hill Wind Farm” said Manson.
In 2004, the Knob Hill Wind Farm became the first wind energy project in B.C. to receive an Environmental Assessment Certificate.
“Once the transaction closes, International Power Canada will become the majority owner of the project,” said Manson.
“Sea Breeze and our Aboriginal partners have back in rights to purchase equity in the project. We will get developers fees and royalties from the project.”
The conditions of the deal, which remain confidential and will be released at a later date, allows Sea Breeze to move forward with Phase 1 of the development.
In March, the project was offered a 20 year electricity purchase agreement by BC Hydro for 99 MW of new wind generation.
Construction on Knob Hill Wind Farm’s Phase 1 is expected to begin in 2011, with a target date for delivery of electric power in late 2012.
The first phase of the project is expected to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 30,000 households every year.
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