Not long ago, the concept of wind energy was hardly enough to blow anyone away with its prospects of becoming a viable source for energy. Times have changed for the wind industry, and no one can attest to that fact better than Quebec’s wind energy sector. This was evident at the recent conference held by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). At their 30th annual conference, held in Montreal’s Palais des congress, top wind industry members were in agreement that they should stay active in any discussions about energy in Quebec. What makes wind energy so attractive, besides the fact that it is a renewable energy source, was that the cost of building wind farms is comparable in cost to other areas of energy generation and it has been a large job creator as well.
Montreal, a Hub for Wind Energy
Montreal is a huge hub for wind energy in the region, the largest in North America, in fact. Almost a dozen major wind energy companies are headquartered there. Montreal, along with the eastern part of the province, is the source of many jobs within the industry. Quebec has positioned itself as perhaps the wind capital of the world, and there has been international interest in the way Quebec has gone about achieving this. The United States is certainly interested in wind energy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit their dependence on fossil fuels. This is all to the benefit of Quebec residents.
There are 26 wind farms currently operating in Quebec, which has helped place the province second only to Ontario in installed wind capacity. Eastern Quebec in particular has had great success in wind production. Situated as it is, in a very favorable wind regime, this part of Quebec will be further developed to produce even more capacity by the year’s end, adding to Quebec’s wind energy capacity overall.
Wind is a Job Creator
Back in 2006, the government in Quebec initiated a strategy to install 4GW of wind energy by 2015. While that goal will probably not be met (it is now projected that 2018 is a more likely target date), Quebec has also set a target of installing 4,000 W of wind capacity by next year. This will be possible due to an effort to help stimulate the economy of Quebec’s Gaspésie region.
There are 1,200 jobs in the wind industry in Gaspésie and more than 150 businesses in wind energy located in the province of Quebec. This has lead to the creation of over 4,000 jobs across the region. Quebec also manufactures towers, blades and converters and is the source for engineering and development in the industry as well.
According to engineer, Bernard Saulnier, who pays close attention to the industry, the success of Quebec’s wind energy sector can be traced back to 2003 when the Quebec government first asked for wind energy proposals. Hydro Quebec showed little interest due to the perceived costs involved. When the cost for the first block of energy was half of the estimated cost it calmed a lot of fears. Saulnier also credits wind energy’s easy integration into the current hydroelectric network to its success as well. During Canada’s cold winter months, water flow is low, but wind is high. Wind helps meet the high demand for electricity during these times making it the perfect complement to hydroelectric power.
The Future of Quebec’s Wind
Wind energy has helped create thousands of jobs and has met the energy needs of Quebec 100 times over. The province has projected surpluses far into the future, making the industry a promising one.
Further growth lies in the selling of that surplus. Fortunately, the United States looks to be an eager buyer. If that’s the case, Quebec’s wind energy is a valuable commodity to export, both in terms of energy and the expertise in how to use this valuable, clean energy resource.
photo via www.joansullivanphotography.com