Shooting the breeze

Renewable energy fascinates Dan Moody more every day. Founder and president of SW Energy Inc. in Clarenville, he’s spent 12 years educating and designing systems with clients based on wind, solar and battery power. recently spoke with Moody about the generating powers of wind.

Why is there a wind turbine standing outside your business?
I put the wind turbine up because I can save money. It just so happens that it’s what I do for a living as well. What better way to express your belief in the technology than using it yourself… I have it at my home, I have it at my business and I have it at my camp. I even have it on my trailer.

How does it work?
It’s generating energy, which is feeding back into Newfoundland Power, so we’re offsetting the cost of our electricity. Instead of leaving the oil furnace that was here, we put in an energy efficient heat pump and then we put in a grid-tie wind turbine directly connected to Newfoundland Power.

Should everyone have a wind turbine?
Not necessarily. It’s very site specific, much more than solar power.

What are your thoughts on the large wind energy projects on the island?
Very good projects. There is extra generation required in the province. We don’t always want to be damming up our rivers. If the wind is there and a community or a business or government would like to take advantage of it then that’s wonderful. Some people don’t mind the look of it, other people are opposed.

Do you think wind energy would apply to the eastern region of the island?
Certainly. There’s no reason why wind energy couldn’t be applied here [Clarenville] locally. Actually, there’s a couple projects pending as we speak.

We’re not connected to the North American Utility Grid so there is a limit cap to how big we’re going to go with these projects because we don’t have the option to sell our power to ‘ABC Corporation’ out of Illinois, for example. We’re an island grid here in Newfoundland, until we get the grid across, which hopefully will come within ten years.

What direction would you like to see wind energy going in the province?
I’d like to see more community-based wind turbines. There’s communities in Newfoundland who can’t afford to pay their municipal bills or where the taxes in the community are getting high. If they could put a wind turbine in place and sell that power to the grid then it’s a viable project.

Should people be buying into everything green?
There’s a lot of energy in buying new things. You’ve got to look at where you’re going to spend your money and how you survive. It’s not always viable going out and buying this wonderful trinket that you think is going to be your green ticket to make you feel better.

Also, when you’re taking energy from nature it’s different because the elements can be harsh. You can buy this stuff on the Internet from California or South Africa but it’s not Newfoundland. It may work, but not in the extremes of weather that we have.

Is it expensive to buy into green energy?
It’s becoming just as cheap to build your own energy system today as it is to buy it. The cost of solar has gone down tremendously, wind technology has matured and electronic technology has matured.

The world has revolved around oil and gas for well over 50 years. How do you work with that industry?
Having a mix of oil and renewable energy is where I fit into the puzzle — helping people and businesses grow with it.

We’ve matured rapidly as human beings on this planet and so there’s been a lot of things we haven’t really looked upon, like climate change and that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed in the industry. But we can’t just drop oil and gas, so we have to work with it.

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