In order to assess the feasibility of using wind energy in communities across the NWT, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) and the Aurora Research Institute (ARI) have been conducting wind energy studies in the NWT for nearly ten years. Wind monitoring programs have been established in several locations in order to provide communities with a clear picture of their local wind resources.
There are several stages to developing wind energy in the NWT. ENR and ARI work together to ensure the communities are well-informed and on-board with all project activities. To begin a wind energy investigation, a pre-feasibility study is done using local weather data and computer wind-flow models to predict the average wind speeds in a community, and to identify the best locations for capturing wind energy. If the wind speed estimates look promising and the community wishes, a wind monitoring tower is erected to confirm the computer model's predictions and to collect two full years of wind data.
Each wind monitoring tower is typically 34 or 60 meters tall, and is equipped with sensors for wind speed (anemometers) and direction (weather vane). A small weather station is also attached to the tower to collect temperature readings. A wind monitor is then hired from the community to retrieve the data and maintain the tower. The resulting wind data is then reviewed and incorporated into an economic analysis of implementing a wind energy program. Results and recommendations are presented to the community for review, and if the wind resources are strong enough and a wind project is economically feasible, the community will decide whether or not they wish to pursue wind energy development.
ENR has committed to finding long term energy solutions for the NWT, and in our windiest communities, wind energy may provide a viable alternative to diesel-generated electricity. With climate change and high fuel costs becoming more of an issue, using wind energy may serve as a more environmentally sensitive and cost-effective approach. To learn about ENR's alternative energy initiatives across the NWT, be sure to visit their website.
For more information on wind energy initiatives across the territory, please see our wind energy reports.