Canada has a small wind energy community, and the members are not yet big players in making national energy policy. Although, worldwide, there are more new installations in wind turbines than any other form of energy supply, wind does not yet figure highly in the energy strategy of Canada. Most of the energy utilities are Crown Corporations belonging to the provinces, and energy prices are kept relatively low. In PEI, most of the energy is purchased from New Brunswick Power and brought in by cable from New Brunswick, where it is produced mainly by nuclear and thermal plants. The cable presently has excess capacity; peak demand is 145 MW, and the cable capacity is 200 MW. There is a 30 year old thermal plant on the Island that can be used as a supplement at peak demand but is usually idle.
Worldwide, the wind energy business generates $1 billion in revenues. There are three categories of product. The largest wind turbines, of the order of 500 kW to 1 MW, have blade diameters like the wings of a large airliner, and are used for wind farms connected to the grid through a bank of transformers. These wind-driven turbines are now competitive when aggregated into power plants on the scale of 100 MW. For example, Northern States Power, a large utility headquartered in Minneapolis, selected a commercially available 750 kW, variable-speed wind turbine, the Zond Z-46, for a 100 MW wind plant on Buffalo Ridge in southwestern Minnesota.
Total delivered power world-wide is about 8,000 MW. These are high-technology units, with sophisticated aerodynamics, advanced materials and alloys, and they depend upon control theory and computer-controlled manufacturing; the installed capital cost can be as low as US$ 1,000 per kW, and falling. The competition for these installations is with other energy sources, like coal, nuclear, and thermal. The cost of energy from a wind farm is about 4-6 cents per kWh, which in the United States tends to be higher than the cost of alternatives, but the competition, such as gas-fired combustion turbines, is also becoming more efficient. In any case, the large castings required and transport costs of getting materials and product on and off the Island probably make this category not suitable for PEI.
Smaller machines, however, would be achievable for Prince Edward Island with a straightforward extension of current capabilities. These turbines are used for village power systems, agribusiness, and water pumping. The largest of these turbines are in the range from 10-15 kW up to 50 kW. The market for this range is growing in the Canadian Arctic, and developing countries. They are useful in remote areas, but they are capable of supporting an urban life-style for a home or residential compound. The capital cost is in the range $2,000-$2,500 per kW. In markets where electric energy is now unavailable at any price, these installations can be the most attractive option to provide needed service.
At the small end of the range are microturbines of about 500-1,000W capac-