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World of Possibilities: Potential in the air with the Saint-Philémon Windfarm

 

Developing a wind farm is a challenging venture. The developer needs to be supported by a specialist at every stage of the project. In addition to undertaking comprehensive engineering activities, WSP managed construction of a windfarm in Saint-Philémon, a mountainous region in Quebec. We also assisted the client in procurement activities. Having worked in this area previously with other clients, we had an excellent knowledge of this site.

 

WORKING TOGETHER WITH THE COMMUNITY

The Saint-Philémon community wind farm project was the first project of this scale to be directly connected to the Hydro-Québec Distribution network. This project has a positive economic impact for all of the municipalities in Bellechasse Regional County Municipality and for the municipality of Saint-Philémon. In addition to carrying out comprehensive engineering activities, WSP had the mandate to manage construction for this project. Receiving strong support from the community, this initiative is the result of an outstanding collaboration between all stakeholders.

The impact of the wind farm in terms of job creation and economic impacts has been immensely positive. Local workers and contractors were hired, particularly for the construction of roads and transport of materials. Self-employed truck drivers were also hired for the operation of all kinds of heavy machinery, for landscaping activities, as electrical contractors and for the maintenance of the vehicle fleet.

OUR EXPERTISE

The WSP Energy team has been involved in developing wind energy projects of all sizes for over 25 years. The discipline-specific teams that we offer for our projects are useful for working together and have developed their own comprehensive, consistent methods of resolving challenges.

When an entire team has developed its skills collectively over a long time, they set themselves apart through their efficiency, versatility, innovative methods and constructive approach. The client felt reassured and this had a significant impact during the execution. The synergy between resources was optimal since it was founded on respect, recognition, complementarity, teamwork and a determination to meet the challenge.

The community dimension of this project facilitated its social acceptance. Stakeholders had a real desire to adapt the project to the local context. We are certain that the role played by the engineers involved in the project particularly shaped the project to meet the needs of the local community. Our ability to establish good interpersonal relationships with the client, as well as to really understand the needs of the local community and analyze the social and environmental aspects of engineering-related activities contributed to the performance of the project and the sense of pride that has followed within the community.

The success of this project both on an economic level and on a technical level was guaranteed by the quality of the wind power resources and the partnership with the community. All aspects of this project respond to the Quebec government’s desire to foster economic development, especially by encouraging the direct involvement of communities. The farm has been in operation since 2015 and has already shown real economic benefits. In August 2015, an initial positive balance sheet demonstrated that the eight wind turbines on the farm were performing better than initially expected.

The projects contributed more than $1.7 million in economic development to the various communities in the region.

 

ACHIEVING CLEAN ENERGY IN ONLY 17 MONTHS

Through its previous work with wind farm owners, contractors, lenders and turbine suppliers, WSP has acquired a solid reputation for our value-added services as well as for the quality and professionalism of our personnel. The breadth and depth of WSP’s expertise allow the firm to use a holistic approach, both insightful and practical. The client was able to rely on a permanent on-site team for the full duration of the project without any staff turnover. This is certainly an added for all the project’s stakeholders.

We already had anemometric data (information about wind direction or speed) from working on another project several years previously. This provided us with important knowledge about the climate and the specific conditions of the site.

The client appreciated the various technical opinions for the wind turbines positioning and the preliminary engineering that WSP provided. Our teams went in the field to validate important information, for example which routes could be used for off-road vehicles and the impacts this project could have on the natural habitat.

During construction, WSP also assumed the role of resident Owner’s Representative in charge of construction and supervision for all disciplines. Our team worked closely with Hydro-Québec to carry out testing, such as wavelength quality testing, the 48-hour turbine test and much more. As Owner’s Representative, WSP had the responsibility of implementing the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program. An OHS representative was appointed and WSP hired an external firm that supplied a loss prevention officer and security guards on site.

Overall, the construction of the Saint-Philémon wind farm began in December 2013 and the farm was capable of producing 100% of its capacity at the end of December 2014. The project included the installation of the wind turbines and their infrastructures (foundations, road, electrical network) as well as the implementation of transport links and a 25-kV switching station to integrate the wind farm’s electricity production into Hydro-Québec’s network.

This initiative required exemplary work from the team of electrical engineers and technicians, particularly in the monitoring of the contractors. We ensured coordination, during testing in a factory and on site, of the equipment and automatism (MER), as well as SCADA, HMI and industrial computing. WSP also assumed coordination of the contractor during commissioning. We were ultimately responsible of the coordination with the various Hydro-Québec stakeholders.

Mindful of the environmental constraints, particularly due to the presence of a protected bird species, the Bicknell’s thrush our team ensured that the positioning of the wind turbines preserved their natural habitat.

 

PLANNING FOR A CLEAN FUTURE

Wind energy has proved itself to be a clean and sustainable source of energy. However, the methods used for the design and production of a wind farm still need to reflect this will to carry out a green project. We configured the farm in order to maximize energy production while taking into account the technical constraints and limitations linked to the biological, physical and human environment.

The promotion of renewable energy makes the Saint-Philémon project a positive reference for the image of the profession. It will also encourage young engineers to take more interest in carrying out wind projects.


Subtitles are available in English.

For more information about the Saint-Philémon Windfarm, please contact Mathieu Laflamme or Jean-François Vallée.