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Wind power in Canada

Wind power has a history in Canada dating back many decades, particularly on prairie farms. As of May, 2014, wind power generating capacity was 8,517 megawatts (MW), providing about 3% of Canada's electricity demand.[1] The Canadian Wind Energy Association has outlined a future strategy for wind energy that would reach a capacity of 55,000 MW by 2025, meeting 20% of the country’s energy needs.[2]


Further information: List of wind farms in Canada
Wind power capacity by province as of January 2012.[3]
Wind power capacity in Ontario by county as of January 2012. Note the concentration along shorelines.

Early development of wind energy in Canada was located primarily in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. Throughout the late 1990s and early years of the 21st Century every Canadian province has pursued wind power to supplement their provincial energy grids. Alberta built the first commercial wind farm in Canada in 1993. British Columbia was the last province to add wind power to its grid with the completion of the Bear Mountain Wind Park in November 2009.[4] With increasing population growth, Canada has seen wind power as a way to diversify energy supplies away from traditional reliance on fossil fuel burning thermal plants and heavy reliance on hydroelectricity in some provinces. In provinces like Nova Scotia, where only 12% of electricity comes from renewable sources,[5] the development of wind energy projects will provide a measure of electricity security that some jurisdictions are lacking. In the case of British Columbia, wind energy will help close the electricity deficit that the province is facing into the 2010s and help reduce the reliance on importing power from other jurisdictions that may not use renewable energy sources. An additional 2,004 megawatts of wind power is to come on stream in Quebec between 2011 and 2015. The new energy will cost 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, a price described as "highly competitive".[6]

Province/Territory Current Installed
Capacity (MW)[3]
Expected 2015
Capacity (MW)
Alberta 1116.6 7013
British Columbia 389.7 781.7
Manitoba 258.5 242
New Brunswick 294 309
Newfoundland and Labrador 54.7 54.7
Northwest Territories 9.2 9.2
Nova Scotia 324 318.7
Ontario 2366.1 4479.2
Prince Edward Island 173.6 173.6
Québec 1866.2 2822.3
Saskatchewan 197.6 197.6
Yukon 0.81 0.81
Total 7051 16392.6

Wind hybrid projects

Contributors to the main power grid are Wind-Diesel and Wind-Hydrogen. One Canadian example is the community of Ramea, Newfoundland and Labrador that initially used a Wind-Diesel system and is now being converted to Wind-Hydrogen technology.[7]

Wind tower manufacture

Canadian industry has started to supply major components for Wind Tower projects, Hitachi Canadian Industries being one example.

Public opinion

Magrath Wind Farm in Magrath, Alberta

In a survey conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in October 2007, 89 per cent of respondents said that using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power was positive for Canada, because these sources were better for the environment. Only 4 per cent considered using renewable sources as negative since they can be unreliable and expensive.[8]

According to a Saint Consulting survey in April 2007, wind power was the alternative energy source most likely to gain public support for future development in Canada, with only 16% opposed to this type of energy. By contrast, 3 out of 4 Canadians opposed nuclear power developments.[9]

Despite this general support for the concept of wind power in the public at large, local opposition often exists, primarily from residents concerned about a perceived "eyesore", noise or reduced property values. This has delayed or aborted a number of projects. This opposition has been described as a case of NIMBYism.[10]

Several wind farms in Canada have become tourist attractions,[11] to the surprise of the owners.

Proposed future strategies

Wind farms on crown land

Some rural communities want Alberta to grant companies the right to develop wind farms on leased Crown land.[12]

Wind Vision 2025

In 2008, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), a non-profit trade association, outlined a future strategy for wind energy that would reach a capacity of 55,000 MW by 2025, fulfilling 20% of the country’s energy needs. The plan, Wind Vision 2025, could create over 50,000 jobs and represent around CDN$165 million annual revenue. If achieved, CanWEA’s target would make the country a major player in the wind power sector and would create around CDN$79 billion of investment. It would also save an estimated 17 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.[2]

See also

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External links