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At N.W.T. site, tests begin for possible wind farm; Aurora Research Institute studying site near Snare hydroelectric system

The Aurora Research Institute is studying whether a wind farm would be economical near the N.W.T.’s Snare hydroelectric system.

In December technicians affixed wind monitoring equipment to a Northwestel tower.

The equipment measures wind speed, direction and temperature. J.P. Pinard, a consultant working on the project, says the hilly terrain is optimal for wind energy.

“If you go a certain height above the general landscape and you get above the inversion layer, there you get the winter winds,” he said.

“What I’m finding is the winds are looking really good. I’m very impressed by what I’m seeing so far.”

The data is part of a Northwest Territories government alternative energy study for the Yellowknife area.

Monitoring will continue for two years.

Pinard says a big challenge will be ice buildup, but that Rio Tinto’s wind farm at the Diavik diamond mine has overcome that by installing heated blades.

“Diavik has proven that wind does work in the North. Now we are proceeding with how we can make it work for the Northwest Territories,” he said.

Pinard says wind energy would help offset the cost of running diesel generators when water levels are low.

If developed, the wind farm could be the first in the territories that’s connected to the public grid. Yukon Energy has also been monitoring winds at two sites in preparation for selecting a site for a wind farm.