Studies show that wind energy in Canada is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with conventional power sources, including coal, small hydro and nuclear power. Unlike other energy sources, the cost of developing wind energy sources continues to decline, with remarkable drops during the past couple of years.
Utilities still rely on conventional technologies to supply the energy required by residential and industrial use, but they are diversifying their power generation resources with alternative technologies, including wind energy. Today, wind energy is one of the fastest ways to produce electrical power in Canada.
As of May 2014, Canada has roughly 8,517 megawatts, covering approximately 3% of the country’s electricity demand. Last year, Canada scored a record in wind power with 23 new installed energy projects that generated almost 1,600 MW ranking Canada at the 5th position in the world for new installed capacity.
The total installed capacity for 2013 was 7,803 MW, providing about 3% of the country’s electricity demand with enough power to cover the needs of over 2 million homes. At the end of last year, Ontario and Quebec were the leading provinces with total installed wind power capacity reaching almost 2,500 MW each.
Canada comes right after the US and the main European countries in installed wind capacity. Regardless of a slow start, Canada is currently having an annual 30% growth rate in wind energy development, which is comparable to global wind power development.
The Affordability Of Wind Energy in Canada
The costs for utilities to produce energy using wind turbines have dropped significantly during the past few years. Canada’s land farms enable the production of large amounts of wind power, especially since wind energy in Canada has a history spanning over a few decades, particularly on prairie farms.
The resource that fuels wind turbines is free, which means that once a wind farm is created, the price of electricity produces is set at a fixed rate for the entire life of the wind farm. Conventional power sources are subject to extreme price fluctuations, which jeopardize the long-term cost stability of electricity rates.
In contrast, wind farms provide cost stability of electricity for both residential and industrial consumers. The costs of creating wind turbines continue to drop significantly and wind projects have very short construction periods and can be installed quickly, creating mainly positive impacts on local communities.
A Strong Future for Canadian Wind Farms
Canada, with its impressive land mass and vast natural resources, has extensive wind power that can be used to produce cost-competitive wind energy, and therefore, holds tremendous potential for the expansion of wind power generation. Some of the best areas for installing wind plants in Canada are offshore and along coastlines, as well as inland areas, such as the southern prairies and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Wind energy projects attract direct funding in various forms, including contracts for raw materials and investment of capital into local services and retail businesses. Technological progress has made wind energy in Canada one of the most affordable power options available and a new wind farm can produce electrical power at lower costs than a new coal plant.
Given the industry advancements and positive results, more strategies and incentives need to be implemented to greater integrate wind energy in Canada’s electricity system and maximize the full potential of the country’s plentiful wind resource.