Federal Environment Minister Stéphane Dion officially unveiled Canada's first national wind atlas during this year's CanWEA conference. The atlas was created using the Wind Energy Simulation Toolkit (WEST), a sophisticated computer modelling program developed by scientists at Environment Canada's meteorological service that combines long term global climate data, high resolution terrain data and advanced 3D high-resolution atmospheric modelling to provide a detailed picture of wind patterns anywhere in Canada at a resolution of five kilometres. The C$2 million project required about 75,000 hours of computer time to generate the close to 100,000 billion values of wind speed, temperature and pressure required for the modelling. The atlas, accessible online, demonstrates that Canada has a superior wind resource, says CanWEA president Robert Hornung. "In fact, it may well be the best wind resource in the world." The atlas will be a useful tool to identify sites for wind development that warrant further investigation, he said. The next step will be to adapt WEST to be used as wind energy forecasting tool by processing real-time data from the meteorological service's main forecast and analysis models.
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