First Canadian wind resource atlas to be released

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The first detailed Canadian wind resource atlas is expected to be released this fall as part of the federal government's C$30 million distributed generation research program. The atlas is being developed using the Wind Energy Simulation Toolkit (WEST), a wind mapping system developed by Environment Canada's meteorological centre in Montreal that extrapolates weather data to come up with an estimate of the wind resource. "We've done our homework and we've already done the validation, comparing our results with real close-to-terrain wind data," says Robert Benoit, the head of Environment Canada's EOLE Wind Energy Project. "Most of the time, we find our estimates are accurate to a few tenths of a metre per second." The federal government plans to license use of the WEST software to the wind industry to allow project developers to conduct detailed wind assessment. "That is the plan for the short term," says Claude Faucher of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), who is overseeing the project. "Once the WEST tool is available for licensing, then we will start the next step, which is to bring it into real time. Once that happens we will be able to do wind forecasting." NRCan is planning website access to the atlas and intends to add a component that looks at rime icing climate. It also wants to develop generic modelling tools to translate wind data into information that can be used for wind turbine selection, as well as site selection and design. A second project will update wind energy interconnection and turbine safety and design standards.

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