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April 08, 2008— Ottawa, Ontario

NRC research officer Paul Penna tests a vertical-axis wind turbine with Dr. Tamás Bertényi of Quiet Revolution.
NRC research officer Paul Penna tests a vertical-axis wind turbine with Dr. Tamás Bertényi of Quiet Revolution.

Decades after developing one of the world's first vertical-axis wind turbines, NRC now helps manufacturers optimize their turbine designs. In December 2006, researchers at the NRC Institute for Aerospace Research (NRC-IAR) tested the performance of a wind turbine for the U.K. firm Quiet Revolution, using NRC's 9m by 9m wind tunnel. Earlier in 2006, the same crew evaluated an experimental turbine developed by Cleanfield Energy of Ancaster, Ontario, in collaboration with McMaster University engineers. Cleanfield has installed five of its 3.5-kilowatt wind turbines at an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources facility in Kenora, and plans to install 150 more turbines on dozens of municipal buildings in Hamilton to reduce electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Besides testing wind turbines, NRC researchers are investigating whether their wind tunnels can be used to evaluate potential sites for turbines. "In Canada, the best places to put turbines tend to be higher elevation sites with hilly or mountainous terrain," says Dr. Guy Larose, a senior research officer at NRC-IAR. However, wind conditions can vary significantly over complex terrain, so wind farm developers must be sure the winds are reliable before they install turbines. "Since wind direction and wind speed are a function of the seasons, developers need to measure these variables for at least two or three years so they know how much wind energy they can depend on annually."

Dr. Larose and his colleagues believe that by measuring the air flow over scale models of terrain found at potential wind farms, they can slash the time it takes to assess the local wind energy resource from a few years to a few months. "So far, we've examined how to build scale models as efficiently as possible from topographic maps, and tested their characteristics," says NRC-IAR research officer Dr. Brian McAuliffe. "Next, we plan to test a scale model of a large wind farm on the Gaspé Peninsula, which will be operational by 2011. We hope to demonstrate that our wind tunnel data is comparable to the actual wind data from the wind farm site."

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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