Canada?s installed wind power capacity increased by 40% in 2009

The rapid rate of growth of Canada’s wind energy industry is at risk of stalling however, as 2009 marked the premature end of federal government support for the deployment of wind energy and other clean renewable electricity sources via the popular ecoENERGY for Renewable Power (ERP) program.

Canada’s wind energy industry enjoyed a record year with 950 MW of new wind energy capacity installed in eight provinces – placing Canada 9th globally in terms of new installed capacity for the year. New wind developments represented more than $2.2 billion in investment, increasing Canada’s total installed capacity to 3,319 MW.

"While Canada is seeking to harmonize its policies with the United States in the area of climate change, we are rapidly moving in opposite directions with respect to policies that support wind energy deployment. As a result, investors are increasingly shifting their focus away from Canada to the United States, and making new investments and creating jobs south of the border,” said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).

“We remain hopeful that the coming federal budget will recognize the significant contribution that wind energy can make in terms of spurring new investment, jobs and rural economic renewal and include a renewed commitment to support wind energy deployment.”

Wind power is an important player in the world’s energy markets. The global wind market for win turbines installations in 2009 was worth about 45 bn EUR or 63 bn US$. GWEC estimates that around half a million people are now employed by the wind industry around the world. The main markets driving this significant growth continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity in 2009.

Canada’s massive wind energy potential remains largely untapped. While Canada ranked 9th in new installations in 2009, Canada rank only 11th in total installed wind energy capacity and 18th in terms of the contribution wind energy makes to meeting electricity demand.

“Wind energy is already making a significant contribution to saving CO2 emissions. The 158 GW of global wind capacity in place at the end of 2009 will produce 340 TWh of clean electricity and save 204 million tons of CO2 every year,” concluded Sawyer. “As we see in Europe and the US, wind power is now often the most attractive option for new power generation, both in economic and environmental terms, and for improved supply security.”

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) announced that the world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37,500 Megawatts (MW) to bring total installations up to 157,900 MW. A third of these additions were made in China, which experienced yet another year with over 100% growth.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install. Wind power has become the power technology of choice in a growing number of countries around the world,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. “Copenhagen didn’t bring us any closer to a global price on carbon, but wind energy continued to grow due to national energy policies in our main markets and also because many governments have prioritised renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans,” he said.

Against all expectations, the US wind energy market installed nearly 10,000 MW in 2009, increasing the country’s installed capacity by 39% and bringing the total installed grid-connected capacity to 35,000 MW. This rapid growth was a result of the implementation of the US Recovery Act with its new policies to support wind energy development through the end of 2012.

CanWEA is the voice of Canada’s wind energy industry, actively promoting the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy on behalf of its more than 450 members. A national non-profit association, CanWEA serves as Canada’s leading source of credible information about wind energy and its social, economic and environmental benefits. To join other global leaders in the wind energy industry, CanWEA believes Canada can and must reach its target of producing 20 per cent or more of the country’s electricity from wind by 2025.