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| 01/21/16

Banner year for Canadian wind power


Canada ranks seventh worldwide in total installed wind power capacity after a banner year for the industry, according to a new report.

The country added 36 new projects worth 1,506 megawatts of potential wind power to electricity grids in 2015, the Canadian Wind Energy Association announced last week, bringing the total to 11,205 megawatts of installed capacity.

However, growth slowed somewhat compared to 2014, when the industry built 1,871 megawatts worth of wind projects.

The association says that the total is enough to supply five per cent of Canada’s electricity demand, or enough power to supply more than three million homes. However, in reality, this could only be achieved if wind turbines operated at their maximum capacity at all times. In practice, sometimes the wind does not blow.

China has led the globe in wind power uptake, installing 23,196 megawatts of capacity in 2014 alone—accounting for 45.1 per cent of new capacity worldwide that year. Germany was second with 5,279 megawatts, followed by the United States (4,854), Brazil (2,472), India (2,315) and Canada (1,871).

Overall, Canada has seen 23 per cent annual growth in the industry over the past five years. Meanwhile, a US report recently found that the cost of utility-scale wind power has dropped 60 per cent over the last six years.

The association’s president, Robert Hornung, said $3 billion were invested in new wind energy projects in 2015, which provide economic growth to well over 100 rural communities across Canada through land lease income, tax payments and community benefits agreements.”

Ontario promises to be the leading province for wind installation in the coming years, and added another 871 megawatts in 2015 to bring its total to 4,361 megawatts. Another 2,000 megawatts are slated to be built in the next few years. Next in wind development is Quebec with 397 megawatts of new capacity, followed by Nova Scotia (186 megawatts), Alberta (29 megawatts) and Saskatchewan (23 megawatts). Alberta, the third-largest wind market in Canada overall, is expected to surge as the province phases out its coal-fired power plants.

BC meanwhile, “held steady” with 489 megawatts of installed capacity last year, although work began on a 185-megawatt Meikle wind project near Tumbler Ridge in early 2015.

In 2014, the wind energy trade association called for a “clear signal” from the BC government on wind energy market opportunities for independent power producers, in the wake of the province’s approval of the Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.

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