Canada’s oldest wind farm is shutting down this summer, some 23 years after the turbines first started feeding power to the Alberta grid.

TransAlta is retiring the 16MW Cowley Ridge project, located in the province’s wind-rich Pincher Creek area.

The project, acquired in TransAlta’s takeover of developer Canadian Hydro in 2009, features 57 Kenetech 375kw turbines. A first phase was commissioned in 1993 and a second phase in 1994. A further five turbines were added in 2000.

The power is sold into Alberta’s merchant market.

“The local Pincher Creek team has done an amazing job of getting the maximum life from the site and helping plan for transition,” said TransAlta wind and solar operations manager Stephen Young.

“Planning for the end of life of a wind site is a fairly new process.”

The turbines will be dismantled from April to June, followed by site reclamation.

Most of the turbine can be recycled, said site supervisor Wayne Oliver. “We are anticipating we can recycle in excess of a million pounds of metal,” he said.

TransAlta is looking at building a new project at Cowley Ridge.

“We’re very interested in the possibility of repowering the site, once decommissioning is complete,” said Oliver. 

“The economics of repowering depends on the province’s long-term plans for adding renewables to the electrical grid.”

Alberta expects to issue its first competition for renewable energy projects in late 2016 as it tries to curb carbon emissions.

TransAlta plans to expand renewables, including wind, in Alberta as part of the company’s transition to clean power by 2030.

Image: Morgue File