Power of Wind: Kathryn MacDonald

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Wind Breathes Life into Turbines and Me:

Beautiful shades of orange and pink spread over the North Shore Mountains as I gaze out of the view pod of the wind turbine at Grouse Mountain Resort. The wind over the ridge breathes life into the gigantic 12,000 lb. blades.

I am faced with two distinct forms of beauty. The first is a breathtaking sunset of Vancouver, BC. The second is a beauty that one may not consider. It originates from the intelligent machine supporting the view pod. This wind turbine’s graceful blades spin to harness the kinetic energy of the wind to create electricity. The more they spin, and the faster they spin, the less energy will be needed from more environmentally destructive forms of energy.

I have one of the coolest jobs in the world. I work as a tour guide in this wind turbine. I get to explain to visiting guests how this project is part of a revolution; there is a necessary future in a global energy mix that does not need to rely so heavily, or possibly at all on fossil fuels. Wind energy is an important part of the solution.

As the turbine produces electricity, it feels like electricity is surging through my own body as well. I feel re-energized to be part of the fight to combat the many environmental problems at hand. This surge of energy pauses as I remember that I found a dead bat near the base of the tower that morning. No form of energy is problem free. Four bats and two birds are part of the cost of this turbine every year. The surge begins again, however, as I remember that its positives outweigh its negatives.

When the 1.5 MW turbine is producing electricity, I feel I am part of the solution. I reduce my own carbon footprint by composting, conserving energy, and not eating meat, but these actions only get me so far. As of 2005, fossil fuels emitted 8.02GtC/yr into the atmosphere (Nagase, 2005)*. Greater use of alternative energy sources will lower these emissions levels and help combat other environmental crises. The beauty of the creation of clean energy is my inspiration to join the fight.

* Nagase, Kozo. 2005. “Carbon–Money exchange” to contain global warming and deforestation. Energy Policy 33 (10): 1233-8.

Kathryn MacDonald is a 3rd year University of Toronto student. She is a renewable energy enthusiast working towards becoming an Environmental Lawyer. Kathryn works as a tour guide at the Eye of the Wind turbine atop Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, British Columbia.