As pollution and global warming threaten our environment, wind farms represent a particularly sustainable response via the creation of energy from wind.
In Canada, the wind farms are becoming more and more popular and a question is, at this stage, being posed relative to the means in which these farms generate benefits and costs. Specifically, the question is whether the benefits of constructing such a farm outweigh its costs. In order to answer this particular query, the current chapter focuses on the collection and analysis of information. The data collected originates from various sources and contexts and is comprised in the form of the case study. The following subsection of the chapter then deals with the presentation of the methodology used in the collection of information. Emphasis is then placed on the actual information retrieved, through both review of the available literature, as well as the construction of the case study. Finally, the chapter comes to an end with a section summarizing and restating the most important findings of the research and analysis conducted.
The methodology used throughout this chapter -- and throughout the entire project in fact -- is represented by the case study. The case studies are integrant parties of the qualitative approach to research projects. Qualitative research approaches are characterized by a wide array of elements, the most relevant of them being presented below:
Qualitative research endeavors -- among which the case study -- are efforts of the researcher to understand the behavior of the studied community through the sustained observation of the selected sample.
Qualitative research efforts complete their objectives through approaches based on words and personal observations and interpretations. This is crucially different from the quantitative approaches to research, which base their activities on numeric data, which is statistically manageable.
The findings retrieved from qualitative research endeavors only explain the phenomenon within the context of the limited sample which has been created for research purposes. Quantitative research on the other hand generates results which can be extrapolated to explain the phenomenon within the context of the wider community outside the selected sample (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009).
In terms of the case study, as a particular tool to conducting research, it has to be noted that it provides the research process with numerous insights linked to various issues pertaining to the assessed phenomenon. In other words, while other research methodologies will assess in detail a specific issue pegged to the construction of wind farms in Canada, the case study approach allows the researcher to simultaneously assess numerous issues pegged to the greater topic. Sue Soy (2006) at the University of Texas at Austin described the use of the case study as a research tool within the following terms:
"Case study research excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue or object and can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research. Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. Researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety of disciplines" (Soy, 2006).
In terms of the rationale for using the case study as a research tool, its benefits and limitations, these are generally those of using any process of qualitative research. On the one hand, while the case study does not generate results which can be generalized, it does lead to a superior understanding of the phenomenon within the selected sample; a qualitative (statistic) approach would not generate as in depth results as the case study would.
Then, another argument in favor of using the case study is represented by its flexibility as opposed to the rigidity of the statistical approach. In this order of ideas, the quantitative approach is based on a limited number of variables and their numeric interpretation. The study is as such focused on these variables and is not flexible to include others, however new important variables could be identified throughout the course of the actual research. The case study on the other hand is more flexible and it allows the integration of new information, as this is uncovered throughout the actual development of the project. This feature explains why differences might occur between the information initially integrated in the research proposal and the data to be actually revealed in the final project.
Finally, the last argument in favor of the case study is represented by the fact that the research project is competed and constructed in a manner which is more accessible to the public. The case study as such explains the findings and interprets the results in a means which is understandable by all readers, whereas the statistical surveys and analyses would not be comprehended by all readers. In other words, the case studies have a stronger impact within the society that statistics (Shuttleworth, 2008).
3. Data collection
The Data collection and analysis section would be divided into two important sub-sections, as follows:
Literature review, and The case study
The Literature review section is also an integrant party of the qualitative research approach and it plays the part of constructing a starting point in the analysis of the costs and benefits of constructing a wind farm in Canada. Nevertheless, the shortage of the section is that it is based solely on information presented within the specialized literature, with the specification that the literary emphasis on the topic is limited. In other words, the Literature review section would only constitute a starting point for the future issues to be addressed throughout the case study.
3.1. Literature review
Canada has a generally windy climate, which makes the country adequate for wind farms. The country is in fact an important owner of various sources of alternative energy, such as bioenergy, biofuels, solar energy, geothermal energy and tidal energy. This is due to the fact that the state has an increased access to vast and diversified resources which are used in the creation of alternative energy. And this production of alternative energy plays an important and incremental role within the overall country:
"Currently, bioenergy is Canada's second most important form of renewable energy and represents about 5% of the country's total primary energy. The most important type of biomass is industrial wood waste, especially waste from the pulp and paper industry, which is used to produce electricity and stream. […] At the end of 2006, Canada had 62 bioenergy power plants with a total electricity generating capacity of 1,652 megawatts. […] In 2006, 7 million megawatt-hours of electricity were generated using wood and spent pulping liquor" (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010).
In terms of the regions in which bioenergy is mostly produced, these refer primarily to forestry areas, but also regions in which the forestry activities are intense. Such regions include Ontario, the British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick or Alberta. Aside from the bioenergy however, Canada also takes prides on its biofuels, activity which has been growing in importance and popularity across the country. The bases of biofuel production are similar to those across the globe, referring specifically to the production of ethanol from agricultural output. The more common agricultural sources of biofuel in Canada are represented by wheat, corn and barley, materials for which Canada is a major producer and exporter. Other sources used in the creation of biofuels include vegetable oils and animal fats, which lead to the production of biodiesel.
The biofuels are not only created by specialized companies, but also by farms, which create outputs of biofuel that complement those launched by the companies. Within the future, the volume of biofuels produced by both specialized agents as well as farms is expected to increase as the Canadian government has issued legislations to support the development of biofuels.
At the level of the solar, geothermal and tidal energy, the capacity of producing energy from these sources varies across the state. The capacity for solar energy production is for instance increased in the central regions of the state, but decreased in the coastal regions, where the climate is more clouded. Still, it is believed that half of the electricity needs in the Canadian residences could be satisfied through the installation of solar panels. For geothermal and tidal energy, the actual capacities and current productions are limited, but efforts are made in the direction of increasing their role:
"Installed capacity of for solar thermal power has seen average annual growth of 17% since 1998, reaching to 290 megawatts of thermal power in 2005. For geothermal energy, Canada's steam resources are limited, but electricity generation projects are being considered. Furthermore, approximately 3,150 ground-source heat pump units were installed in residential, commercial and institutional buildings across Canada in 2006. Finally, ocean energy is a potential opportunity because much of Canada is surrounded by oceans. Currently, Canada has a tidal power plant in Nova Scotia with a generating capacity of 20 megawatts of electricity. Additional tidal current demonstration projects are being considered" (The Organization…