Diavik Wind Farm, located at Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada's northern territories, is the world's largest wind-diesel hybrid power facility. The mine is a joint venture between the subsidiaries of Rio Tinto and Dominion Diamond Corporation and uses no government funding. Four 2.3-megawatt turbines were constructed in 2012 with a capacity of 9.2 megawatts. Prior to 2013, the mine relied on diesel fuel for all its energy needs, using approximately between 40 and 50 million litres of diesel per year, which cost approximately $70 million annually.
A key milestone of the project involved Diavik’s renewable energy feasibility study which began in 2007 and included the installation of a meteorological tower to collect weather data at the mine site. After studying the data over the course of three years to determine whether sufficient wind could be produced, a decision was made to move forward with the plans to incorporate renewable energy at the facility. The meteorlogical tower was donated to Det’onCho Earth Energy, a local indigenous joint venture company.
Soon after the installation of four turbines, the wind farm’s demonstrated capacity is 9.2 MW with a 17 GWh annual production, which is enough to provide an average of 10 per cent of the mine’s power (it produced 8.5 percent of the mine’s power in 2013 and 11.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2014). Over its first year in 2013, the wind farm resulted in a diesel offset of 3.8 million litres. or $5 million, and cut back on the winter road fuel haul by approximately 75 loads. It is estimated that it will take eight years to provide a payback period. It is also estimated that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by approximately 12 000 tons, or 6 percent of emissions.
The project is notable due to the technology used for blade de-icing since it allows the turbines to be used in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius. This provides the ability to run the turbines at temperatures 10 degrees lower than previously available.
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Photo credit: Diavik Diamond Corporation