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Harnessing wind power in -40°C Arctic temperatures

The TV show "Découverte", recently broadcast on CBC's French-language network (Radio-Canada) a report on the largest wind turbine built to date in Quebec's Far North. Located at the Raglan Mine (part of the Glencore Group, formerly Xstrata Nickel) in Katinniq, the new three-megawatt turbine is the result (in part) of an environmental, social and cultural impact study conducted by WSP focusing on renewable energy sources.


WSP's contribution

As part of this project, WSP carried out a comprehensive impact study touching on the environment, culture, noise and visual aspects; all parts of the overall picture were taken into consideration. WSP worked in close partnership with the local communities, drawing on their traditional knowledge. Measuring the real impact of such a project on their lifestyle was an essential component of the study. The team was made up of project manager Kateri Normandeau and technical director Guy Jérémie, together with Maude Beaumier, Guy Préfontaine, Véronique Armstrong, Patrice Choquette, Edith Normandeau, Martin Pilon, Pierre Cordeau and Louise Talon.

The team responsible for evaluating the wind resources, headed by Jean-Marie Heurtebize, conducted wind modelling over Glencore's entire operating area (including Deception Bay) from 2008 to 2011. WSP also played an advisory function regarding the installation of the wind measurement towers, which were used to collect the data needed to carry out a more rigorous analysis of the project. Thanks to WSP's involvement, Glencore was able to kick off the project by identifying wind zones and potential sites suitable for wind turbines. An estimate of the annual energy that could be produced on the various sites was also provided. In addition, the peregrine falcon’s presence was studied due to possible menace from the blades, as well as the vortex generated by the turbine.

Making the right choice: wind power

Opting for wind power, the client, Tugliq Energy Co., and the mine decided on a model equipped with heated blades and adapted to the Arctic climate (it is capable of withstanding blizzards of over 120 km/h and can produce energy in temperatures as low as -40°C). The idea underlying this change of direction was to find an alternative to excessive diesel consumption and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the mine. That goal, in fact, has already been reached: over the past seven months, diesel consumption was down by 1 million litres while greenhouse gas emissions were down by 2,600 tons.