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February 6, 2008

Power Generation

Ontario government’s change in wind-power policy direction generates new fans

Lifting Ontario’s offshore wind farm moratorium is just what the wind-farm industry needs to help promote further construction in this field, a West Coast-based offshore wind development firm says.

“What really needs to happen is that developers need to demonstrate that offshore wind can be part of the (energy) solution and at relatively competitive costs,” said Sara MacIntyre, public affairs and communications director for NaiKun Wind.

“Wind is a large and viable resource (and) the Ontario announcement is positive because it grows capacity to build (in it).”

Ontario constructors and project developers in the field have weighed in with varying opinions on the viability of building offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes.

Some officials point cautiously to construction costs and logistics, which are currently unknown for building in the Great Lakes.

However, Trillium Power, which proposes a 140-turbine project near Prince Edward County, said they believe that the construction challenges can be overcome because local expertise exists to build construction capacity in this field. NaiKun said that its team is ready to tackle construction of its project’s first phase located in Hecate Strait, between Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Prince Rupert.

One of its construction directors has been involved in almost every offshore wind project in Europe, noted MacIntyre.

NaiKun also secured $35.5 million last year to help fund early development, which will allow it to purchase early equity requirements such as turbines and underwater transmission cables.

NaiKun is building in the Haida Energy Field, which has some of the strongest, most consistent winds in Canada. NaiKun secured a 550-square-kilometre permit area where it plans to build the first phase of their wind project, a 320 megawatt offshore wind farm.

MacIntyre estimated the wind turbines will occupy 36 sq. kilometres of the straight.

“The size of the turbines will really dictate how construction goes forward,” explained MacIntyre.

“The logistics depend on the turbines — offshore turbines are larger than land-based ones.”

In September, 2007 NaiKun installed its $2.5 million marine meteorological station, designed to help measure and collect data on atmospheric conditions, wave and current climate, wind speed and direction and air and sea temperatures.

These measurements are an important piece in determining the pre-engineering of the project and deciding on the best location for the wind turbines.

“We have not settled on a turbine supplier and there is the possibility (we will) buy and manufacture the towers in B.C.,” MacIntyre said.

NaiKun has teamed with Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution to help in the development, construction and operation of the transmission system for the project’s first phase.

The project’s Environmental Terms of Reference were approved in late 2007 and it now is in the pre-application environmental assessment process with the province.

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