In the wind energy industry, high-quality data makes a world of difference in project feasibility and performance. Ryan Kilpatrick, a research engineer at CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, Natural Resources Canada, will take the CanWEA stage on October 25 to share key opportunities for policymakers, developers, and utilities to leverage data behind the Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study to make smarter decisions, faster.
We spoke to Ryan about the upcoming conference, the significance of this data deep-dive, and what it means for the future of wind energy in Canada.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
CanWEA: What can attendees expect from your session?
Ryan Kilpatrick: The session is really about unlocking the value of the data behind the Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study.
I hope that attendees will come away with:
- A better understanding of the data produced through this study.
- An understanding of our motivation behind diving deeper into the data.
- A familiarity of the Open Maps platform.
- An understanding of the value this digitized data set holds going forward, and how it can be leveraged for many different purposes.
Finally, we want to do more data visualization collaboration, and I would like to work together with attendees to see how we can make more wind data publicly available.
CanWEA: What is Open Maps?
Ryan Kilpatrick: The Open Maps platform is an online repository for the Government of Canada to host spatial information. It allows users to combine, visualize, and analyze geospatial data and collaborate with other Canadians. There are currently close to 800 maps available and new data sets, like those from the Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study, are being added regularly.
CanWEA: What factors led to this Wind Integration study and why is it significant?
Ryan Kilpatrick: This study came together as a response to the lack of detailed national wind integration studies in Canada. There have been regional studies previously, but nothing that looks at the country as a whole. Electricity system operators, utilities, and planners see a lot of value from connecting these types of studies in other jurisdictions. The Wind Integration Study helps to better understand operational challenges, and the tools that can be used to overcome them when putting higher amounts of renewable generation, such as wind, on the electricity grid.
The study is significant given Canada’s climate targets and all the signs that point towards wind becoming an increasingly significant portion of the electricity generation system. Canada has clean energy targets of 90% non-emitting electricity by 2030, and emissions falling by at least 80% from 2005 levels by 2050. We know that meeting these targets will almost certainly require increasing the deployment of renewable energy onto the grid.
CanWEA: What key trends, opportunities, and challenges identified in this study are important to the industry today?
Ryan Kilpatrick: The study came out with 55,000 sites that represent the most likely locations for wind energy projects in Canada, including some offshore wind sites. Now, by converting this data into a GIS-compatible form and hosting it on Open Maps, it allows for data visualization and classification of the sites. This in itself is valuable to policymakers, planners, researchers and even communities that want to take the first step towards a potential wind energy project in their area.
With the Open Maps ability, we can now go one step further and layer this resource data on top of other data sets that exist on Open Maps or externally. For example, you can look at the proximity of a site to transmission lines and roads, view land use designations and more. You can couple this information with other data sets very easily and turn it into a single, powerful decision-making platform. That’s where we see the value. Once we start to collect more data sets, we will be able to further unlock these types of capabilities.
CanWEA: Canada is just scratching the surface of its clean energy wind potential. What does the future of wind energy in Canada look like to you?
Ryan Kilpatrick: I see a future where wind energy is rightfully valued in the eyes of the public, policymakers, and utilities as a real driver of the low-carbon economy. We’re seeing record low prices coming out of Alberta, and the wind industry is starting to offer more grid reliability services that have traditionally only been offered by large and centralized generators like coal, gas and nuclear.
We talk about decarbonization as necessary to avoid some of the dangerous impacts of climate change, and to me, there’s no doubt that wind will continue to be called upon to play an increasingly critical role. However, many challenges remain. We are going to need more cooperation between jurisdictions, so having a broader balancing area coupled with increased coordination, flexibility, and advanced controls will allow the utilities to draw on the most efficient resources where it makes sense to do so.
CanWEA: What are you most looking forward to at CanWEA?
Ryan Kilpatrick: I’m looking forward to learning about the exciting advances in technology and methods that allow for greater wind performance and safety improvements. I’m also looking forward to connecting with people, both new and familiar, to better understand their role and needs, and how they can benefit from our research. We are currently undergoing a planning process at CanmetENERGY to determine the new research priorities and activities we will be undertaking over the next four years. This is an opportunity to reposition ourselves to ensure we are doing research that meets the needs of Canada’s wind energy industry and community.
I’m looking forward to engaging with academia, industry, non-profits, communities, and researchers to get feedback from them about what they see as priorities for government research in wind energy. We work closely with research partners and stakeholders to produce solutions that directly benefit the end-user, so engagements facilitated by events like CanWEA are very important for us.
You can find Ryan on-stage during the “Your Energy Assessment is Ready” session on October 25, 2.00-3.00 pm.
Ryan Kilpatrick is a research engineer at CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, Natural Resources Canada. In this role, he is responsible for conducting research on various aspects of wind energy including cold climate performance, wind forecasting, renewable energy integration and renewable energy assessment for northern and remote communities. Ryan completed a Master of Engineering Science degree at Western University in London, ON, where he investigated flow over complex topography for wind resource assessment applications.
Looking for more wind energy insights?
The Annual Canadian Wind Energy Conference & Exhibition is the meeting point for all members of the wind energy industry – top business executives, technical experts, decision and policy makers, and government representatives – to come together and address the key issues facing the industry today. Join us October 23-25, 2018 at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta.