The Wind Farms of Southwest Saskatchewan

By Craig Baird

Wind energy actually dates back centuries. The Persians used a carousel type windmill to grind grain, and by 1100 AD windmills were found across Europe. The Dutch would find that putting the blades on a horizontal shaft allowed for greater water pumping efficiency, and during the 1850s the windmill made its way to North America where the great plains’ farmers used them to pump water for home use and livestock.

Southwest Saskatchewan is, without a doubt, the wind generating capital of the entire province. There are four wind farm power stations in all of Saskatchewan and three of the four are found right here.

The Centennial Wind Power Facility, the Cypress Wind Power Facility, and the Sunbridge Wind Power Facility are generating plenty of megawatts of electricity, providing power to roughly 100,000 homes in the province.

All the wind turbines in southwest Saskatchewan work as horizontal axis wind turbines, which have blades that spin in a vertical plane like propellers on a plane. The blades are shaped in such a manner that when wind passes over them, it will move rapidly over one side, creating a low pressure area behind the blade and a high pressure area in the front. The difference in air pressure on either side causes the blade to spin.

The Centennial Wind Power Facility

Situated 25 kilometres southeast of Swift Current, it is one of the largest wind farms in Canada (sixth-largest), generating 150 megawatts of electricity through 83 turbines, providing power to 69,000 homes. This facility is the largest wind farm outside of Ontario and Quebec. At the time of its construction, it was the largest wind farm in Canada.

The farm is operated by SaskPower International and was built in 2006.

Each of the 83 turbines stand 107 metres into the air, or 1/10th of a kilometer.

With the addition of the Centennial Wind Power Facility, the wind power generation capacity of Saskatchewan increased from 22 megawatts to 172 megawatts.

Cypress Wind Power Facility

In 1993, an initial assessment found that Gull Lake was one of the windiest places in Saskatchewan. Computer modeling of the wind regime in southwest Saskatchewan looked at various locations and found that Gull Lake was best situated for a wind farm.

In 2002, nine wind turbines were constructed and commissioned into service in October, generating six megawatts of electricity. Seven more wind turbines were added in 2003, bringing the total wind generating capacity to 11 megawatts.

Each of the wind turbines at Cypress Wind Power Facility rise to over 50 metres.

SunBridge Wind Farm

Located five kilometres southeast of Gull Lake, the facility is owned by Suncor Energy and Enbridge. In total, 17 wind turbines produce a capacity of 11.2 megawatts.

Completed in 2002, it was the first modern wind farm in Saskatchewan.

Each tower stands nearly 70 metres. The gearbox weighs in at 6,200 kilograms, the same as a large elephant and uses 130 litres of oil, equivalent to 30 cars. In all, the turbine weighs in at 94,000 kilograms, the same as a blue whale.

The energy production each year of 36,000,000 kilowatts per year provides enough electricity for 6,000 homes.

When it officially opened, its wind power capacity amounted to six per cent of all the wind power capacity generated in Canada.

Article Compliments of The Gull Lake Advance

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