Canada Passes 1,000 MW of Installed Wind Energy Capacity
Canada has now become the 12th country in the world to surpass 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of installed wind energy capacity. With 1,049 MW of installed capacity now in place, wind energy produces enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 315,000 Canadian homes. As of June 2006, Canada had installed a record 365 MW of wind energy capacity this year, and this number will increase further before the year is out.
"The 1,000 MW milestone is another clear signal that wind energy has moved from the margin to the mainstream in Canada, and our record-breaking 2006 is laying the foundation for much more significant growth in the years ahead," says Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. "Canada's provincial governments are now targeting to have a minimum of 9,000 MW of wind energy production in place by 2015 and many are currently examining the possibilities of going further. In fact, British Columbia is the only province that has no wind energy facilities operating or contracted at this time."
Provincial governments have historically been supported in their efforts by the federal government's Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI) program. At this time, however, the federal government has frozen the funding associated with the program pending a review and assessment of a wide range of programs that will inform the government's plans to develop new packages of initiatives to address energy and environmental issues for release in the Fall.
"Policy uncertainty is always problematic and costly for business. We hope that the federal government will move to release the funds associated with the WPPI program as quickly as possible to ensure that the current momentum behind Canada's rapidly growing wind energy industry is not halted," says Hornung. "We believe wind energy is consistent with, and supportive of, a number of stated federal government priorities in areas such as rural economic development, the adoption of new and innovative technologies, clean air, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Wind energy must be part of any government's energy strategy for the 21st century."
Wind energy has clearly become a key component of several countries' current and future energy plans. Germany already has more than 18,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity and wind energy currently provides six percent of the country's total electricity needs. China has now laid out a plan to have 30,000 MW of wind energy in place by 2020. The United States is installing 10,000 MW of wind energy in a three year period. Denmark currently gets almost 20% of its electricity from wind energy and even small countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands have more installed wind energy capacity than Canada.
"Even though the growth of Canada's wind energy industry is impressive, we must not lose sight of the fact that wind energy continues to develop more quickly in other countries. Spain, for example, had 1,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity in 2000, and is now on track for 20,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity by 2010", says Hornung. "With Canada's unparalleled wind resource, there are clear opportunities to do more to maximize the economic, industrial development, and environmental benefits associated with wind energy for Canada."
Projects already installed this year include the Kettles Hill Wind Farm in Alberta, the Centennial Wind Power Facility in Saskatchewan, the St. Leon Wind Farm in Manitoba, several small wind energy projects in Nova Scotia, and the Kingsbridge, Melancthon and Erie Shores Wind Power Projects in Ontario. These projects represent a total investment of approximately $650 million and provide a range of local economic benefits in the form of lease income to landowners, tax revenues to municipal governments, and new investment and jobs in rural communities across Canada. There are also significant environmental benefits.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) represents more than 230 companies involved in Canada's wind energy industry, including wind turbine and component manufacturers, wind energy project developers, electric utilities and service providers to the wind energy industry. CanWEA's goal is to see 10,000 MW of wind energy capacity either contracted on installed in Canada by 2010.
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