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Wind turbines escape ice

Wind turbines operating in Quebec and Ontario were not damaged by the massive ice storm that hit the area in early January, reports the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). Three NEG Micon 750 kW machines recently erected near Matane on the Gaspe Peninsula for electric utility Hydro Quebec were well outside the storm area, says CanWEA's Jean-Louis Chaumel. But a Hydro-Quebec transformer connecting the turbines to the main utility grid failed in late December before the turbines started operation. The project is now paralysed until Hydro Quebec can detach workers from ice storm response duty to replace the transformer. Near Rimouski, a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine threw off ice naturally during the storm. Ontario Hydro's Tacke 600 kW unit at Kincardine, northwest of Toronto, was well outside the Ontario area of devastation, coping with some five centimetres of ice accumulation. Meanwhile, the storm has boosted citizens' arguments to decentralise the bulk power supply and the need to diversify the grid and energy sources, Chaumel says. "We received several requests for wind energy for specific urgent needs during the ice storms," he says. Most of these calls were from farmers who had lost power. "We could not respond, due to our lack of wind turbines in the five to ten kilowatt range. We must find solutions." The University of Quebec is now examining the feasibility of a portable wind energy unit, ready for assembly and operation within 24 hours. A small van could carry all the equipment for a 5 kW wind turbine, including the tower in sections.

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