Canadian wind energy in 2014 had another record-breaking year, thanks to new wind farms in Canada’s largest province.
According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), Canada added 1,871 MW of new wind power in 2014. Ontario, was tops with 999 MW, followed by Quebec (460 MW), and Alberta (350 MW). Overall, Canadian capacity now stands at 9,698 MW. This is enough wind power to meet the electricity demand for 3 million Canadian homes on average yearly.
Last year also saw Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, build new wind farms. Overall, developers built 37 new Canadian wind farms. Municipalities, First Nations, and farmers provided “significant” local ownership in 15 of the new wind farms.
Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA, said that new wind capacity in 2014 generated total investments of $3.5 billion. This helped to diversify and grow over 100 rural local economies with increased tax payments, leasing income, and community benefit agreements.
“Wind energy has demonstrated that it is a proven, reliable, and cost-competitive energy solution that drives economic diversification, environmental sustainability, and rate-base value,” Hornung added.
So what can 2015 bring for Canadian wind energy?
More Ontario wind contracts, Quebec’s new Energy Strategy, and Alberta’s new climate change policy, which could boost provincial wind power development even much further — all events to watch out for, Hornung noted. He anticipates at least 1,500 MW of new wind power capacity this year.
While these events will drive the industry this year, other wild-card issues may play a pivotal role in where the wind blows for Canada’s wind energy future.
First, Alberta is being hurt by low oil prices, and those are also pushing down federal government revenue, advancing the need to diversify Canada’s energy strategy. Second, concerns about keeping oil under the ground — to prevent runaway climate change — are increasing. Add an upcoming federal election this year, and you have a recipe for a much-needed discussion on where renewables are headed in Canada’s sustainable development plans.