Glacial Energy Blog

Wind and Snow (but not what you think)

Wind turbine and windy treesWind energy is steadily blowing away the energy markets and gaining a cool advantage in colder climates. It is predicted that by the year 2017, wind energy will produce between 45 and 50 gigawatts of electricity in cold climates alone. This would by a 72% increase over 2012’s output. Tomas Wellenius, a researcher with VTT Technical Research Center of Finland claims this to be “a huge opportunity” in that cold climate wind energy is more feasible than offshore wind energy, which is “still at the research and development stage.”

Cold climate wind energy is unique in that during winter months especially, the air is denser than in summer and higher speed winds are more frequent. Coupling that with the sparse populations and sprawling lands of tundra, cold climate wind energy seems like a no brainer. But, all those benefits come at a cost. Wind turbine blades are highly susceptible to icing in cold weather. This can lead to a loss of 3% to 10% in energy production. This can be counteracted by implementing anti-icing systems.

The Finland based VTT is also working on developing anti-icing systems. One firm, Labkotec Ltd, is a leader in developing technology that detects icing. These severe weather climates require specialized knowledge and experts in their fields to ensure that the systems they design and integrate work at the utmost capacity, allowing the energy to flow from these massive wind turbines.

Wind energy is definitely a growing part of the energy market, and with all the open space available in cold climates, particularly in the northern hemisphere, turbines are being erected as quickly as possible to keep the juice flowing. It’s expected that wind power will top 300,000 megawatts by the end of 2013, and a good portion of that will be due to the advances in anti-icing technology and cold climate wind programs.

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