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Introduction

If you've driven through the rural lands surrounding the Region of Waterloo then you've undoubtedly noticed the increasing numbers of wind turbines churning out electrical power for their owners. Waterloo Region is not known for particularly high winds that are attractive to commercial wind developers, but there can be exceptions in treeless exposed areas.

Review the Get Started section for consideration of whether to site your own wind project or whether you'd rather pool your resources with others and invest in a windier site with larger scale turbines. If the latter is of interest, you may want to consider joining nearby community energy co-operatives based in Milverton Countryside Energy Co-operative or Baden Local Initiative for Future Energy, L.I.F.E.). Before investing in a wind farm project, however, check whether the project has, or is likely to receive, a connection agreement from Hydro One. For some background on this last point, you might want to read "Province's Nuclear Deal Strangling Spread of Wind Power" [PDF 135Kb]

Backgrounder

There are several different types of "wind energy converters", but they all operate on the same principle: when the wind blows, it pushes a rotating part (the blades), which turn a shaft. The turning shaft creates a rotating magnetic field, generating electricity. Some wind turbine shafts are horizontal (e.g. the more common type pictured in the media), and some are vertical [link to Turbine2 in the photogallery]. For any wind turbine, the power and energy output increases dramatically as the wind speed increases, therefore the most cost-effective wind turbines are located in the windiest areas. Wind speed is affected by the local terrain and increases with height above the ground, so wind turbines are usually mounted on tall towers. For more technical information on wind energy, visit Paul Gipe's "Wind Works" website.

Local Scene

There are at least 5 wind turbines in Waterloo Region, including 2 older-style turbines just north of Waterloo that were purchased from California and refurbished and installed by WAM Energy. Others include a turbine sited at the YMCA Outdoor Education centre near Paradise Lake, a prototype vertical turbine sited on a farm near Ayr, and Jim Cappleman's turbine featured above.

A local consortium of partners including the City of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo, recently won a grant from the Federation of Municipalities towards a $100,000 wind research project including installation of 2 wind test towers on publicly owned lands in Waterloo.