Skip to main content

Work continues on the wind turbine at the Exhibition grounds in Toronto on April 27, 2011.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's iconic wind turbine on the edge of Lake Ontario has been brought to a grinding halt by a combination of a bearing failure and, ironically, high winds.

The lazily spinning, three-bladed turbine at the Exhibition grounds has been frozen since mid-March. It's the latest hiccup for the project which was launched in 2002 when 427 investors raised $800,000 to buy 8,000 shares in the 750-kilowatt generator.

Windshare, the co-operative which runs the turbine, hopes to get it up and running as soon as the weather co-operates, said president Dianne Saxe.

Story continues below advertisement

"The cranes are there, the bearing is there and they're working on it," she said adding getting a bearing itself was a challenge. "Every time we'd find a bearing for sale it would be sold. Because of the demand for wind power, demand for these bearings is also high and they sell them as soon as they make them."

Indeed, the blades were off Wednesday before Thursday's windstorm hit.

Compounding the issue was the bankruptcy of the Dutch windmill manufacturer, Lagerwey, which rendered the maintenance contract and warranty useless, said Ms. Saxe.

While Windshare's original investors split dividend payments of $32,000 from the sale of power in 2005, profits since then have been ploughed back into the turbine for maintenance, Ms. Saxe said, adding the bearing replacement will cost $200,000.

"We had no idea how to run it, and, so in 2006, 2007, 2008 there was a lot of downtime, though it was working," she said. "Then a couple of volunteers took it on themselves to learn how to run it. Thanks to them in 2009 and 2010 it ran at 95 per cent, generating about 1000 megawatts (enough to power 200 homes for a year)."

Still making money from the turbine wasn't the goal, said Ms. Saxe, an environmental lawyer who drives a hybrid. It is also not part of the Ontario government's Feed In Tariff program, which subsidizes almost all other wind and solar projects in the province.

"It was built to demonstrate the technology and raise the profile of wind energy," she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Windshare hoped to build a second turbine at Ashbridges Bay and raised $300,000 from investors for that, but discussions with the Toronto Port Authority broke down. In the meantime, it is developing a project in the Bruce Peninsula pending transmission line logistics and is working on a similar concept, Solarshare, to install solar panels on rooftops in Toronto.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.