Exhibition Place wind turbine: the iconic and the inept

Parker Gallant’s latest, at Wind Concerns Ontario, is a splendidly acerbic take on an old topic/fraud.

If a pollster surveyed Toronto residents asking if they had ever seen a “wind turbine,” most of them would respond that they had—it’s at Exhibition Place. The 91-meter turbine on Toronto’s waterfront has become “iconic.” Built in 2002 by the WindShare Co-operative, with an initial capacity of 750 kilowatts (since reduced to 600 kilowatts), the little wind turbine has been the subject of many articles and news stories, and a handy backdrop for former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s “photo ops.” WindShare bills it as “Canada’s premier wind turbine.”

Image from Wind Farm Realities website

The turbine has played a role in university theses for students seeking degrees in environmental studies. Most made incorrect assumptions, probably based on the information they gathered from the co-operative that fostered the turbine. One such thesis, written by a University of Waterloo student, claimed the Exhibition Place turbine would produce “1,400 MW hours of energy per year (enough to power approximately 250 homes).” The truth is, those 250 homes would actually require 2,400 MWh annually (9.6 MWh X 250 homes = 2,400 MWh) not 1,400 MWh, and second to achieve that level of power generation, the turbine would have to operate at almost 46% of its maximum capacity—that’s well above the norm of 29-30% for turbines today. But claims like that were regularly produced by the proponents and seldom dispelled or even questioned.

Co-op Week also used the same figures of 1,400 MWh and the 250 homes, proving that not much effort went into understanding its capabilities…

Continue reading Toronto’s Ex Place wind turbine: icon or mirage?

My original content blog has a related post, from 2012, The Exhibition Turbine: An Icon for Ontario’s Mazza Race

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