Renewable Energy Showcase: Capital Power’s Wind Fleet

Renewable energy is critical to meeting North America’s rapidly expanding energy needs. Supported by FlexGen capacity, this balanced approach to powering the grid will help shape clean power system for tomorrow.  

Capital Power proudly owns and operates 10 wind facilities that provide approximately 1,380 MW of renewable energy to communities across Canada and the U.S. Wind generation accounts for approximately 15% of our total generation capacity and is part of our strategy to deliver reliable, affordable, and clean power.  

From the sky to the grid – how wind energy is produced

In its simplest form, wind turbines capture the wind’s kinetic energy, convert it into mechanical energy through rotating blades and a shaft, and then convert that mechanical energy into electrical energy through a generator.

Diving deeper, the wind turns the three rotor blades that are attached to a wind turbine’s hub, which is connected by a driveshaft to a gearbox. As the blades spin, the driveshaft also spins. The gearbox increases the rotational speed of the driveshaft. While the blades may rotate at about 10-20 rotations per minute (rpm), the gearbox increases this speed to about 1,500-3,000 rpm, which is the optimal speed required by most wind turbines to produce electricity efficiently.

The high-speed shaft from the gearbox drives the generator, which converts the mechanical energy from the spinning shaft into electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. Inside the generator, the rotation of the shaft causes magnets to move past coils of wire, generating electricity.

The clean electricity produced by each wind turbine of a facility is then sent to a substation via a network of medium-voltage electrical cables called a collection system, typically located underground.

At the substation, the electricity is converted to a specific voltage based on the requirements of the local electrical grid.

Wind turbines are equipped with various control systems to ensure efficient operation. These systems monitor wind speed and direction, automatically adjusting the orientation of the blades (pitch) and the direction of the turbine (yaw) to capture maximum energy. They also ensure the wind turbine shuts down in high wind conditions to prevent damage.

What happens when the wind isn’t blowing?

Wind turbines are built in locations that regularly experience windy weather (among many other determiners), but when there isn’t any wind, there isn’t any power production. To ensure our ability to provide reliable energy, wind power is one component of our diverse supply mix and is supported by other energy solutions from our fleet, including solar power and optimized natural gas facilities. This is key to our ability to build a clean power system for tomorrow that our customers can depend on.

On the horizon

Our Halkirk 2 Wind project in east-central Alberta is under construction and is expected to begin commercial operations in Q4 2024. To mitigate the impact of required lighting on the community, we’re installing an Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLS), which uses radar to detect aircraft within the vicinity of the wind facility and only turns on the navigation lighting when necessary (if an aircraft is nearby).

Learn more about Halkirk 2 Wind