With Canada’s big wind energy summit wrapping up in Montreal today, the country’s renewable energy path is in the spotlight. From 2003 to 2009, the country’s installed wind energy base “increased tenfold” – and by the end of this year, North American Windpower magazine notes that the installed capacity is expected to exceed 4,000 MW.
There’s also good news in areas such as British Columbia, “which had zero wind energy capacity before 2009, [and] now has more than 800 MW built, under construction or contracted.” And a new study sees a big potential for Quebec to develop significant wind capacity by 2015.
But the wind energy experts see regional efforts as a drop in the bucket compared to the potential of Canada as a whole, with the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) setting a wind capacity vision that’s nearly 14 times as big as the current base — or 55,000 MW by 2025.
Their report on the state of the country’s wind development, WindVision 2025, outlines major economic benefits, including 52,000 new full-time jobs and $165 million in annual revenues, that the 2025 goal would produce. Not to mention the environmental effects – cutting Canada’s annual greenhouse emissions by 17 megatons, to be exact.
The big-picture focus on wind in Canada comes as GE just announced a deal with Suncor Energy to provide 55 of GE’s 1.6-megawatt wind turbines for the Wintering Hills project, one of the largest wind power undertakings in the province of Alberta. At peak operation, Wintering Hills is expected to generate enough electricity to power around 35,000 Canadian homes.
As WindVision 2025 makes clear, wind energy isn’t a magic bullet on energy costs. “Wind power won’t mean that electricity rates will fall,” the report notes, “but it will put the brakes on any price increases.”