VAWTPower at Clines Corner

Éole represents the culmination of more than a decade of research in the US and Canada on Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs). Éole was—and remains—the largest VAWT ever installed. That Éole is still standing on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence near Cap Chat on Quebec’s Gaspé peninsula is in itself remarkable.

The turbine was not only unique for its sheer size but also because it used a large-diameter, direct-drive, ring generator rated at 4 MW. Until then most turbines had used induction generators.

The phi-configuration Darrieus with a rotor 64 meters in diameter and 96 meters tall was erected beginning in 1984 and went into operation in 1987. The experimental turbine swept 4,000 square meters and operated until spring 1993 when it was stopped due to damage of its large and expensive bearing. During its six years of operation the turbine generated 12 million kWh.

The photos below were taken in 1995 when on a lecture tour to the Université de Rimouski, which is not far from Cap Chat. By then the turbine had already been taken out of service.

I made the mistake of telling the audience that all wind turbines that are derelict on the landscape, such as Éole, should be removed and sold for scrap. In the audience was the mayor of Cap Chat. He took exception to what I said and came up after my talk and said, and I am paraphrasing here, “Jamais, Jamais, (never, never) attack our tourist attraction.”

Since then I’ve modified my presentations and now I simply add that I have nothing against “static sculptures.” Thus, Éole is no longer a wind turbine, but merely a static sculpture and as such is an acceptable use of the landscape. . .

The mayor, Jean-Yves Bérubé, was a dynamic proponent of his community and a great advocate of bringing in tourists just to see Éole. It was at his insistence that a visitors center was developed at the base of the tower to meet the needs of tourists interested in wind energy. His efforts live on in the continuing operation of the visitors center and Cap Chat’s regular tours during the summer months.

The village of Cap Chat still recounts the history of the wind turbine on its web site and notes that they began giving tours in 1987 and they’ve continued to this day. In 2013, the village celebrateed 25 years of tours to Éole and its interpretative center as a result of the late mayor Jean-Yves Bérubé.

The turbine is still the center of local tourist activities. Révolutions Cap-Chat held an electronic music festival 3 August 2013 at the base of the turbine. The festival also celebrates the local use of renewable energy.