"My wife says I’ve always got my head stuck out the window when we’re driving, trying to figure out which way the wind is coming from.” For Samit Sharma, knowing the direction of the wind is more than just a passing pleasure—it’s his business. He is a wind energy developer. It was during his science and technology master’s program at Queen’s University that Samit first learned about wind power. "I was at a technology gathering when I heard someone talking about it. I figured, with increasing environmental concerns and the push to find renewable sources of energy, wind power would be the future.”
Later in his program, Samit studied an existing wind power development company. This study inspired him. "I took my studies a step further by developing a business plan and proposal for my own wind power development company.” Today, Samit is president of Gaia Power, a wind energy development company in southern Ontario, splitting his time between his office and the field. When at his desk, he researches new wind power technology and answers calls and emails from the public about potential wind energy developments. He must also keep up with what’s going on in regulatory affairs with wind power. In the field, Samit assesses which areas have good wind potential.
This means speaking with landowners and using his training as a mechanical engineer to review the logistics of how the power could be harnessed to an existing power grid. "We get a lot of inquiries about potential wind sites. People think because they have a breeze on their land they can generate wind power. Generating wind power is so much more than just a breeze.” With such a new form of renewable energy, there are a number of drawbacks to Samit’s work. When Samit proposes a wind energy development, he must educate not only the landowners and local community about what he wants to do, but also the local government. "There’s a lot of learning going on from the government, community, and our own side.”
This can occupy a lot of Samit’s time and energy to ensure that all interested parties know what is going to happen and how it will affect them both positively and negatively. Wind energy is also costly to develop. "The wind might be free, but the cost of developing it is very expensive.” In addition, most of Canada’s power industry is highly regulated. Before a wind energy development can go ahead, the provincial government must approve it. "If the project proposal doesn’t fall within government regulations, they can reject it altogether, and then you’re back to square one.”
Despite the drawbacks, Samit is committed to his work and determined to see his company succeed, and not only for his personal gain. "I’m pursuing a business opportunity that is good for society, good for the overall health of the community, and good for the environment.”