The outlook for US wind power growth is cloudy and negative with the wind production tax credit (PTC) due to expire at year-end. The wind power forecast for 2012 is decidedly better north of the US border, in Canada, however. Canada’s wind power market should experience another year of record-setting growth in 2012, with the addition of some 1,500 MW of additional capacity, according to a Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) study released at the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) annual conference in Copenhagen.
Canada’s wind energy industry enjoyed a record year in 2011, installing around 1,267 MW of new capacity, an investment of $3.1 billion that created some 13,000 person-years of employment. That ranks 6th globally with a total wind energy capacity of 5,403 MW, enough to power more than 1.2 million homes, according to CanWEA and the GWEC’s 2011 annual industry reports.
Canadian wind power capacity is on a growth path that should see it easily exceed 10,000 MW by 2015, adding to the economic, social and environmental benefits that have already been realized. Wind energy can meet 20% of Canada’s electricity by 2025, according to CanWEA. Taking a broader view, more than 50,000 MW is expected to be installed across North America from 2012-2016, bringing total NA wind energy capacity to more than 100,000 MW, according to the GWEC’s five-year forecast.
“Canada, and in particular Ontario, has emerged as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally. This industry represents billions of dollars in new investments across the manufacturing and construction sectors,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.
“Wind energy is playing a growing role in delivering clean, safe and affordable energy as provinces look to build stronger electricity systems. Maintaining this growth and momentum will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework.”
Ontario’s Renewables Feed-in Tariff and Wind Energy Growth
The only Canadian province with a renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT) in place, Ontario’s leading Canadian wind energy growth. “Ontario built on its position as a North American wind energy leader by awarding feed-in tariff contracts for another 1,688 MW of wind, bringing the total capacity to be built under the program to nearly 3,200 MW,” according to GWEC’s 2011 report.
New wind energy installations with a total capacity exceeding 500-MW went up in Ontario in 2011. More than 5,600-MW of wind power capacity will be installed in Ontario by 2018, “creating 80,000 person-years of employment, attracting $16.4 billion of private investments (with more than half that invested in the province), and contributing more than $1.1 billion of revenue for municipalities and landowners in the form of taxes and lease payments over the 20-year lifespan of the projects,” according to CanWEA’s five-year forecast.
“SaskPower agreed to buy the output of three small-scale projects totaling 24.8 MW and received final bids in September in its request for proposals for 175 MW of large-scale wind, while Manitoba Hydro signed a power purchase agreement for a 16.5 MW expansion of the St. Leon Wind Farm,” as noted in the GWEC report.
Wind energy supplying 20% of Canada’s electricity will benefit Canada in many ways, CanWEA asserts, resulting in:
- $79 billion in new investment
- 52,000 new high quality jobs
- $165 million in annual revenues for municipalities
- Reducing Canada’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 17 megatonnes (17 million metric tons)
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