While wind turbine technology continues to make advancements, Saskatoon Light Power (SLP) won’t be generating electricity from wind in the Saskatoon area anytime soon.
According to a report going to city council on Monday wind power faces challenges in Saskatoon which include the need for large-scale wind turbines located a recommended 550 metres from residences, and the need to avoid the airport and flight paths.
The report said the best wind resource inside the SLP service area is on the top of the Saskatoon landfill, but the capital cost to build a single turbine, which was considered in 2012, is not economically feasible.
At that time the city received only one bid at $6.35 million to build a 120-metre tall turbine atop the Saskatoon landfill. That was about $2 million over budget, and while the turbine would still turn a profit, “the rate of return is not enough,” said Kevin Hudson of Saskatoon Light Power in 2012.
Nearby Montgomery Place residents voiced strong opposition to the project, arguing there are potential adverse health effects from living near wind turbines. The city maintained there was no evidence of this.
Health Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, conducted a two-year study that was released in November 2014 and found wind turbine noise did not have any measurable effect on illness and chronic disease, stress and sleep quality.
However, the louder the wind turbine noise was, the more people reported being very or extremely annoyed.
The report to city council said SLP has also explored the use of small wind turbines in its service area. A 1.3-kilowatt unit was installed and assessed over a one-year period at a substation in 2008. Based on the results of that one-year assessment, SLP concluded small wind turbines are not economically feasible within an urban area.
James Glennie, president of Saskatchewan Community Wind, said wind is the most economic option for producing energy, just not at the landfill.
In February 2014 the city turned down the group’s proposal for a community-owned large wind project outside the city.
“Instead the city has pursued the landfill gas project, is now considering solar at the landfill and is talking about other projects such as the hydro scheme by the rail bridge,” Glennie said. “While these may have value I can guarantee that wind is the most economic option for Saskatoon. If the city claims otherwise they should produce the independent economic analysis to support their position.”
As well, Glennie said until “SaskPower’s provincewide monopoly is addressed, the residents of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan will continue to pay the price for conflicted, and consequently poor, economic decisions regarding new generation capacity.”
Instead of pouring $1.457 billion into the Boundary Dam carbon capture project, Glennie said the same amount of electricity could have been achieved using wind energy at a capital cost of $400 million.
The purpose of the SLP report to council was to provide an update on advances in wind turbine technology and possible applications within the city’s service area.
According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the capital cost to build wind generation is competitive in comparison with other generation technologies and is one of the fastest-growing major sources of new electricity around the world.
Canada has more than 8,500 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity. According to SaskPower, Saskatchewan has nearly 200 MW of installed wind capacity, which represents five per cent of the available provincial generation capacity.
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