OPG 7 commemorative turbine
The OPG 7 Gomberg Turbine is a Vestas model V80-1.8MW wind turbine in Pickering, Ontario. At the time of its construction, it was one of the largest wind turbines in North America, a 117-metre high wind machine commissioned in 2001 and designed to produce enough power to satisfy about 600 average households. This electricity is also emission-free.
The commercial wind power industry has introduced steadily larger wind turbines to improve efficiency and the energy returned on energy invested. By 2008, the OPG 7 was no longer an unusually large wind turbine, with many new wind farms installing units of 3MW capacity and larger. However, the wind turbine remains the only unit in the world to be directly on the site of a nuclear power plant.
The Pickering Wind Generating Station (GS) produced an average of about 2900 megawatthours (MWh) of electricity a year from 2001 to 2005. It generated about 18% of the electricity it would have if it had operated 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. This 18% capacity factor is low compared to other forms of generation, and is low compared to most commercial wind farms in North America. The low capacity factor results mainly from the lack of constant strong winds at the Pickering site, the wind shadow effect of nearby large buildings, and the high maintenance required for a prototype unit. The relatively low capacity factor is typical for wind turbines sited primarily as demonstration units. Other areas in Ontario have superior wind resources.
The wind turbine typically produces enough electricity to supply the annual electricity needs of about 330 average homes. At full power, it can supply about 1,800 homes at any given time. In comparison, any one of the six operating reactors at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station can supply enough electricity for over 500,000 homes. To rival the output of a nuclear plant, many wind turbines must be installed together into a large wind farm.
About 50 truckloads of concrete totalling some 318 tonnes form the steel-reinforced tower base. The wind turbine components (blades, hub, nacelle, tower sections) traveled from the Vestas manufacturing plant in Denmark. A barge delivered the components to Oshawa, and trucks hauled them from there to the site. Power from the wind turbine travels on underground cables into the electrical grid system.
The amount of electricity produced by the wind turbine depends on the strength and quality of the winds at any given time. The wind speed at which this turbine begins to generate electricity (its cut-in speed) is about 16.9 km/h (10.5 mph). When operating, the blades turn at a constant speed of 15.7 revolutions per minute. If the wind speed is more than 90 km/h (56 mph), on-board computers stop the turbine to avoid damage to it.
Technicians can access the generator atop the tower by climbing a ladder inside the hollow tower. Because of this difficult access, public tours of the wind turbine are not permitted. However, the turbine features prominently in the corporation's public relations campaigns, and there are occasional guided tours.