Canadian wind industry growing dramatically

Article by Richard Simonian of Green Party US

2008 was a banner year for the wind industry in Canada, but judging by 2009 statistics (in the first half of the year alone) it’s clear that the best is yet to come. Canada broke it’s own annual growth record in wind power development during the first six months of this year, installing an impressive 365 MW of new wind energy capacity. Additional megawatts are expected to be installed by the end of 2006, totaling an unprecedented 70% increase in just one year. New projects include Kettles Hill wind farm in Alberta, Centennial wind power facility in Saskatchewan, St. Leon wind farm in Manitoba, as well as Kingsbridge and Melancthon power projects in Ontario. “It’s very encouraging to see the growth of wind energy in Canada,” says Ed Worthy, Managing Director Market Development. “There are new industry players and new projects and this is good for the entire industry.”
New turbines across the country are catching more than just wind: they’re catching the
attention and imaginations of Canadians as well. Research conducted for CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) in February 2005 indicates that an overwhelming number of Canadians – 92%- believe that wind energy will play a significant role in meeting the country’s future energy needs.

Even more Canadians – 96%- are supportive of continued wind development in Canada,
and most say they prefer the development of wind power over conventional sources of electricity such as coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear power. Government initiatives have played a key role in igniting the industry’s rapid growth rate. In 2005, the federal government made a commitment to expand its Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI) to 4,000 MW of wind energy development by 2010. Changes to provincial governments’ land procurement processes have also helped to facilitate rapid expansion of wind power
across the country.

While the industry celebrates a larger presence on the national energy scene,
experts are quick to point out that Canada hasn’t even come close to reaching its full
wind energy potential. Currently the country has 1,049 MW of installed capacity –
enough to power over 315,000 homes. It’s estimated however, that Canada has
over 30,000 MW of potential wind energy available for development.

“There is no doubt wind energy will continue to be a growth industry in this country,”
Ed Worthy says. “With well executed projects and continued government policy support,
the industry can make headway toward the full potential we have.” By 2015, Canada’s installed wind energy capacity will have increased tenfold to 9,000 MW – enough to power millions of homes; a significant improvement over the 30% annual growth rates that have held steadily over the last five years.

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