by Heidi Riley
The Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICan) is a non-profit organization dedicated to testing, innovating, and advancing wind energy across Canada. Their research facility in North Cape PEI is home to five wind turbines, a solar array, and a battery energy storage system.
“We started off as the Atlantic Wind Test Site in 1981,” says Robbie Sanderson, Data Quality Assurance Coordinator. “It was Canada’s first foray into looking into wind energy and its implications. Through the 80s and 90s, the Atlantic Wind Test Site led research into wind in Canada. In 2006, as wind energy expanded across Canada, we officially opened as a not-for-profit organization called the Wind Energy Institute of Canada.”
WEICan currently employs 12 full-time staff members. “We have a wide range of positions,” says Robbie. “Our current team includes a CEO and a research group led by our Scientific Director. Our operations side maintains the wind park, and our administrative side looks after our day-to-day activities.
“We currently have an opening for a Director of Engineering.
“Currently we have two interns working with us. One has completed a Masters of Engineering, and the other has completed a Bachelors of Physics. During this past summer, four summer students from various undergraduate programs worked with us. We have had people who finished first year of university, and we have had people who have completed their four-year degree but have not graduated yet who started with us.”
Students who take part in an internship also have the benefit of a place to stay on site for free while they complete their work term.
“We are governed by a board of directors who have industry and academic ties. As an organization, we collaborate with industry, utilities, system operators, and academia to advance wind energy in Canada and around the world.
“We want to build capacity in the industry. To do that, we need to understand how the turbines operate and how to operate them better. Through that understanding, we want to build tomorrow’s leaders – people who are working and doing the research now will be the people who are the experts in the future.
“One of our areas of research is renewable grid integration. As we start to pull current fossil fuels off the grid, we will have to replace them with renewable energy. Our research will help us understand how renewable energy will affect the current power grid and how to design an expanded power grid in the future as we bring on more electric vehicles, electric heating, and more manufacturing on PEI.
“We know we have a changing climate. How will that affect turbine operation? We have 40+ years of data showing how the climate has changed on North Cape and we have 13 years of operation of our wind farm.”