Introduction:

Ontario currently leads Canada's provinces as a producer of wind power. However, despite that status, only 8% of the province's energy mix comes from wind power, with Canada Energy Regulator projecting an increase to 19% by 2050. [1]

The ability of clean energy technologies to be cost-competitive with fossil fuels should not be a prerequisite to their development. Instead, the absolute necessity of ceasing fossil fuel production and consumption to human life as we know it should drive comparisons between various methods of green energy production.

Design factors:

Like solar and tidal energy, wind turbines produce intermittent energy, whereas in developed areas electricity is generally expected by consumers to be available instantaneously. Solving the issue of intermittent production is a major area of research in wind power generation, with results suggesting that linking the outputs of production centres spatially removed from each other may reduce the short-term variability by 95%, with the remaining variability in output taking place on scales longer than a day, meaning they can be planned for using meteorological data. [2]

Availability and cost of materials is the other major constraint on wind energy production, with the blades being a significant area of development. Longer blades produce more energy, but require careful construction and material choices to minimize deflection. [3]

Modern wind turbine blades are usually constructed of a composite of layered glass fibre, carbon fibre and resin, with the goal of constructing a blade that is both strong and light. The blade can be constructed in halves and then fitted together, and the finished blade is tested to see whether it develops cracks under pressure, wind, or extreme temperatures. [4]

References:

[1] Canada Energy Regulator, “Canada’s Energy Future 2021: Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2050,” Canada Energy Regulator, EF2021, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/canada-energy-future/2021/index.html [Accessed: Sept. 22, 2022].

[2] J. Huang, X. Lu and M. McElroy, “Meteorologically defined limits to reduction in the variability of outputs from a coupled wind farm system in the Central US,” Renewable Energy, vol 62, Feb, 2014. [Online serial]. Available: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10981611

[3] J. Watson and J. Serrano, “Composite materials for Wind Blades,” Wind Systems Magazine, Sept. 2010. [Online], Available: https://web.archive.org/web/20220211204536/http://www.windsystemsmag.com/media/pdfs/Articles/2010_Sept/0910_PPG.pdf [Accessed Sept. 22, 2022].

[4] G. Duval, “What Are Wind Turbine Blades Made Of?,” semprius.com, para. 4-15, July 13, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.semprius.com/what-are-wind-turbine-blades-made-of/. [Accessed Sept. 22, 2022].