Gosfield and Comber Wind Energy
In development since 2002, new wind energy projects in Essex County near Windsor, Ont., are being brought to life by Brookfield Renewable Power, the power generation arm of Brookfield Asset Management, a global leader in property asset management, infrastructure, and power generation.
The Gosfield and Comber Wind Projects are adjacent to each other, with Gosfield consisting of 22 Siemens turbines, capable of generating 51 megawatts, and Comber having 72 Siemens turbines and 166 megawatts capacity. Gosfield began operating in October 2010, and has capacity to generate enough electricity to power more than 16,000 homes. When in operation later this year, Comber will generate enough electricity to power more than 55,000 homes. Combined, the two projects offer 94 turbines and 216 megawatts.
“Gosfield and Comber represent a continuous, long-term source of renewable energy,” said Ian Kerr, Brookfield’s Vice-President of Development. “Local suppliers, landowners and area businesses are also benefitting, and these wind projects are helping the province and the country reach green energy goals.”
Renewable power generation is nothing new to Brookfield. The company’s history reflects a long and steady tradition of building renewable hydroelectric power projects over the past 100 years. While hydro remains the cornerstone of Brookfield’s power generation—with 167 power plants across North Americas and Brazil generating more than 4,300 megawatts of power each year—the operation of wind facilities has broadened a growing energy portfolio.
Gosfield and Comber are, in fact, Brookfield’s second major wind project. Brookfield’s Prince Wind Farm in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., began generating electricity in November 2006. Prince is one of Canada’s largest wind farms, with 126 wind turbines and an installed capacity of 189 megawatts.
Multi-year planning and environmental assessment cycle
Wind farm development begins with an extensive planning and environmental assessment cycle. “Gosfield-Comber started with our assessment of the wind resource in the area back in 2002,” Kerr said. “From the beginning, we engaged the community in all aspects of the development, from turbine placement to wildlife habitat protection to showing local businesses how they could maximize procurement opportunities.” There has been great buy-in from the community and the groundwork has been laid for a successful, long-term community partnership.
Building high-quality assets with low operating impact
By its nature, renewable power is sustainable, extracting energy from naturally abundant wind and water resources.
“The real value we see in wind technology is that the impacts are very small. We design our facilities to a very high standard, mitigating noise impacts and using very quiet turbines,” Kerr said. “Greenhouse gas reduction is a huge topic, not just in the power generation business, but in everything we do. We are building zero-emission facilities that are providing a meaningful contribution to mitigating climate change impacts.”
Focused on long-term power generation, Gosfield and Comber feature power purchase agreements with the Ontario Power Authority that will provide continuous electricity for the next 20 years. These are high-quality assets that represent the latest wind technology; assets that have numerous competitive advantages.
“In fact, we see our renewable energy assets appreciating over time. While they are capital-intensive from a development perspective, once in operation they have comparatively low operating costs,” Kerr said.
Focus on environmental and community sustainability
Community development goes hand-in-hand with power generation in the communities where Brookfield Renewable Power operates. Since 2004, Brookfield’s Sustainable Development Initiative has contributed close to $4 million to support 30 grassroot projects. Almost all projects support sustainable development initiatives that are strengthening Brookfield’s ties to community stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities. “Our operating principal is to work in harmony with the environment and the communities where our facilities are and where we live and work,” Kerr said.