QUEBEC – Canada’s first industrial-scale wind power facility is being installed in two phases at Glencore Xstrata‘s Raglan nickel-copper mine near the tip of the Ungava Peninsula. The mine is well sited to take advantage of the wind because it sits on a plateau 600 metres high with few trees in the area.
The mine lacks access to the provincial power grid or the natural gas network, and using diesel-powered generators is expensive. In fact, energy is the second largest budget item at the mine. Building a wind powered generator system will cut diesel consumption significantly, and with fossil fuel demand reduced, a major decrease in greenhouse gases will follow.
Glencore said the wind project has been in the works for a few years. Employees began to measure the wind and investigate the engineering needs and potential environmental impact of a wind turbine farm. Consultations have been done with local communities and other stakeholders.
The two phase approach is intended to reduce some of the risks of building such a large project in an Arctic climate. The first stage involves building wind energy storage facilities and an Enercon wind turbine in the summer of 2014. If successful, the second stage will see the construction of three to five additional turbines in 2016. The goal is to reduce Raglan’s diesel consumption by more than 50%.
When the winds are high, the turbines will produce excess power that will be used to generate hydrogen through electrolysis of water. The hydrogen will be compressed and stored, available for use as a fuel when needed.
Glencore has accepted support from both the Canadian and Quebec governments. If its wind farm performs as expected, the technology will be exported to 14 local Nunavik villages.
Learn more about the Raglan mine by clicking here.