Blog Archive - April 2014 View All

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The way the wind is blowing

April 21, 2014 by Klaus

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of new electricity. In fact, there are currently more than 150,000 wind turbines operating in more than 90 countries around the world.

Here in Canada, there are 4,376 wind turbines (as of January 2014) that produce 7,803 MW of power. How much power is that? Enough to power more than 2 million homes.

So, since wind power is a major player in Canada, we’ve pulled together some interesting facts about this clean, sustainable energy.

1. The blades on a wind turbine start turning when winds reach a speed of 13km/h and shut down if winds reach 90km/h. That operating range means wind turbines produce electricity 85 per cent of the time.

2. The first wind turbine in Ontario was installed in 1994. Today, Ontario holds the record for the highest number of installed wind energy turbines (over 2,200 MW).

3. According to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), wind energy’s contribution to the Ontario electricity system continues to rise. Just before the last coal plant was shut down on December 31, 2013, wind energy’s contribution had surpassed that of coal production.

4. There’s enough on-shore wind in the United States to power that country 10 times over.

5. Denmark has, at times, used wind power to supply 100 per cent of the electricity needs of the country.

6. Modern wind turbines produce 15 times more electricity than the typical turbine did 25 years ago.

7. The cost to build wind turbines continues to decline, particularly in the last three years.

8. A 150 MW wind farm uses 480 million litres less water each year than a natural gas facility of the same size. That’s equivalent to the volume of 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

9. One megawatt of wind energy can offset approximately 2,600 tons of carbon dioxide.

10. Last year, IKEA bought a 46-megawatt wind farm in Alberta. The 20-turbine farm will be the largest owned by a Canadian retailer and is expected to generate 161 gigawatt hours (GWh) each year, which is more than double the total energy consumption of IKEA Canada.

Wind power is making a significant contribution to Ontario’s electricity supply; and it’ll only continue to do so in the coming years. After all, the wind keeps blowing.

Innovative Solar Technologies Bring Light and Life to Developing Countries

April 07, 2014 by Uhlig

Here in Canada, we pretty much take energy for granted. We expect the lights to turn on whenever we need and consider it an annoyance when they don’t. Converting to renewable energy sources is encouraged, but to date, we continue to rely heavily on our power plants to provide the energy we need, when we need it.

Our reliance on government-produced energy means that when most of us think solar, we typically think of the ground mount solar panels used by big corporations and the rooftop solar panels used by individuals to complement the power plant produced energy. Rarely do we think of it as a total replacement solution.

And, we don’t often think about the fact that in many parts of the world, billions of people don’t have regular, or any, access to electricity. One billion people in developing countries don’t have reliable access to electricity and more than 1.3 billion don’t have access to the electrical grid at all. This affects everything from business to education to basic health and safety.

For these people, the ability to harness the power of the sun literally brings light and life into their homes. Here are three of our favourite innovations.

Let there be light. Even small amounts of light and electricity can have an enormous impact on the economic possibilities for workers and the education performance of children. To meet this need, several companies have developed small, durable solar charging lamps and appliances that can cheaply replace kerosene lamps. Our favourites are the d.light S20 which provides 8 hours of 360-degree light on a full battery and the LuminAID which is a solar-inflatable light specifically designed for those affected by disasters, crises and conflicts. It packs flat and inflates to become a lantern.

Fridge on the go. To transport much-needed vaccines and medicines to remote areas of rural Kenya, Winston Soboyejo and his students of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University came up with the idea of mounting PV solar powered mini refrigerators on the backs of camels.

Fresh water. For people with limited or no access to fresh drinking water, the Eliodomestico solar still provides up to 5 litres of water a day. Water is poured through an opening at the top and the sun heats it during the day. The pressure forces steam through the nozzle leading to a watertight boiler, and condenses against the lid.