A Day in the Life

My Scottish neighbour across the street calls the Ferndale Turbine “Tessie”. How was Tessie’s day?

Tessie had a good day. From 8:30 this morning until 10:30 at night, she produced 23,000 kWh. That’s 91% of the maximum output possible during that time frame.
Today was HOT. It was over 30 degrees C, but the saving grace was the wind. It was strong all day. I wouldn’t call them cooling breezes – more like an oven, but at least the air was moving – it was a classic southwest summer breeze that we often get. Tessie experienced a peak wind speed of 16.9 m/sec just after 1 PM. That’s just over 60 km/h. She was pitching her blades at that time to let some of the wind pass, to keep her blades turning at a constant 16.3 RPM.

It was right around this time of peak wind that a group of kids from Camp Celtic was touring the turbine. I had some friends in town and was giving them a tour too. You could hardly hear Tessie’s blades. The noise from the wind drowned out the sound from the blades.
Kids amuse Tessie. They ask the funniest questions. One time a grade 2 student asked if you could climb the turbine and jump off. I believe my answer was something like, “Yes, there is a ladder inside. So I suppose you could. But you would want to be wearing a paruchute or be attached to a bungee cord.” I didn’t thing anything more of it. But the teacher had the kids draw a picture of the wind turbine, and write about what they learned, and she sent it to me. The drawings had people on the top of the turbine with bungee cords attached, saying things like, “I hate turbines.” And “Help me!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh!”
Tessie’s cooling fans and radiators were working overtime. She measures temperatures in 17 places, to ensure things like gearbox oil, generator, hydraulic fluid etc. stay within the right range. She will shut down if temperatures go above the allowed limit. Tessie remembers the time that cluster flies got into the radiator, providing insulation and preventing it from working properly. On a hot day like this, she doesn’t need cluster flies. They are more of a fall thing, and the farm around her has had the cattle replaced with wheat this year. There should be less flies.
Tonight there was a thunderstorm. We needed the rain. But thunderstorms scare her. Not only do they cause havoc with the electrical grid, but she has been hit many times by lightning. A couple of times in past years, the lightning has been big enough to damage her blades, and so a crane with a man basket, and blade technician has been needed to effect repairs. But this time, even the grid co-operated. Tessie never went off line. She just kept pumping out Kilowatts.

And its a good thing. With the hot weather, Ontario, demand for power in the province was at very high levels – over 26000 MW. Evidently not everyone in Ontario has read my blog entries on conservation yet. But Tessie proudly did her part, providing much of the power used on the Peninsula north of Wiarton, as imports soared, and the price in the spot market rose to over 14 cents/kWh.

Some people, like electricity planners, say that wind is unreliable, and can’t be counted on, especially in the summer. Sometimes they are right. But today, they were wrong. Tessie delivered.

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