Wind energy is one of the world's fastest growing energy sources. The growth has also highlighted major technical issues facing the Canadian wind sector, ones that are due in large part to the Canadian context of a huge landmass with diverse terrain and a Nordic climate. The technical challenges affect all aspects of the entire value chain from resource assessment and wind power extraction to wind power integration and optimization. These technical issues limit the ability of the Canadian wind industry to compete in the growing wind energy market and achieve its full potential.
The vision of the NSERC Wind Energy Strategic Network (WESNet) is to develop innovative solutions to the most important technical issues confronting the Canadian wind sector through strategic use of its networked research expertise and facilities, and broad-based partnerships.
WESNet is the first wind energy network in Canada, and comprises 39 leading Canadian researchers from 16 universities from coast to coast, working in close collaboration with 15 partners from industry, wind institutes and governments. The Board of Directors is the governing body of the Network, with broad representations from industry, government, researchers and international institutes. The WESNet operation is managed by its two executive committees (Scientific Committee and Outreach Committee), coordinated by the Principal Investigator. The research programs are organized into four wind energy themes, led by internationally recognized Canadian researchers. The total research budget of WESNet is $6.5 over five years, comprised of $5 million from NSERC and $1.5 million from the partners.
The WESNet objectives are to develop made in Canada solutions to wind energy technical challenges within the context of Canada's distinctive climate and geography; to empower the Canadian manufacturing sector to become an international player in wind technologies; to promote wind energy as an economically viable and environmentally beneficial supplement to the energy portfolio; and to address the growing Canadian demand for highly skilled personnel. The research programs include four themes:
The establishment of WESNet is a result of strong partnership between the Canadian wind industry and teams of multi-disciplinary university researchers who have expertise related to wind energy technologies. The endeavours of WESNet will lead to the development of innovative technologies for Nordic climates and diverse geographical conditions; will allow the Canadian wind industry to gain a competitive edge in Canadian and global wind energy markets, through transfer and commercialization of the developed technologies; will complete training of 150 highly skilled engineers with bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees for the Canadian wind energy sector; and will increase the public awareness about wind energy as an economically competitive and environmentally friendly source of energy.