It is estimated that new wind farm developments represented more than $2.2 billion in investment last year. Canada also achieved a new milestone in 2009 – wind power generated electricity is now produced in every province with the recent commissioning of Bear Mountain Wind Farm in British Columbia.
In total, Canada’s wind energy capacity is more than 3,300 MW. The Government of Canada continues to accelerate the growth of Canada’s wind power sector through a range of mechanisms including the Clean Energy Fund and ecoENERGY for Renewable Power. Initiatives are also being employed in the provinces and territories.
For example, Ontario’s Green Energy Act enabled the creation of Canada’s first comprehensive guaranteed pricing structure for renewable electricity production.
Canada completed its Wind Technology Road Map (an industry-led, government-supported initiative). The resulting long-term vision and action plan is designed to encourage the growth of domestic wind energy expertise, and the development of wind energy technology specifically relevant to Canada.
The focus of Canada’s wind energy R&D continues to be the advancement, development and demonstration of safe, reliable, and economic wind turbine technology to exploit Canada’s large wind potential.
Canada’s federal departments and research organizations are working together in R&D areas that are particularly relevant to Canada, including: reliability of small wind turbines and certification standards; large wind turbines and offshore opportunities; cold climate research; adapting international codes and standards to the Canadian context; and, improving wind resource assessment and forecasting.
Canada is pursuing new wind development opportunities in the north, and offshore. Canada’s northern and remote communities are currently monitoring their wind resources, with the hopes of developing wind energy projects. Enthusiasm for offshore wind is building momentum in Canada, and several offshore wind farm projects have either been proposed or are under development.
Moreover, Canadian manufacturers are exploring opportunities, challenges and actions required to ensure
Canada has a place in the growing global wind energy industry.
Canada’s wind energy industry enjoyed a record breaking year. Over 900 MW of new wind energy capacity was installed in eight provinces, placing Canada in 9th place globally, in terms of new installed capacity for 2009.
As of December 2009, Canada’s total wind energy capacity is more than 3,300 MW – a ten-fold increase in six years. Canada now produces enough wind generated electricity to power nearly one million Canadian homes. In Ontario alone, wind energy production rose by more than 60 per cent over the previous year, according to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
Although there are no national wind energy deployment targets, Canada’s federal government has made a commitment to have 90 percent of Canada’s electricity produced by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal and wind power by 2020.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) continues to pursue Wind Vision 2025, a strategic vision for wind energy development in Canada, released in 2008. CanWEA’s vision sees wind energy supplying 20 percent of the country’s demand by 2025, bringing total Canadian wind energy capacity to 55,000 MW.
Electricity supply in Canada is becoming cleaner. The electric system is transitioning to lower emission intensity, with the retirement of coal plants in Ontario and growth in renewable energy generation facilities. Although hydroelectric, nuclear, and natural gas capacities are expected to increase in the future, large changes are also projected in renewable energy.
The National Energy Board’s recent publication “2009 Reference Case Scenario: Canadian Energy Demand and Supply to 2020” provides a forecast of Canada’s electricity generation mix, by source.
Canada achieved a new milestone in 2009 – wind-generated electricity is now produced in every province with the recent commissioning of Bear Mountain Wind Farm near Dawson Creek, B.C. Canada’s wind energy capacity is roughly divided in thirds: one third in Ontario, one third in Alberta and Québec, and the remaining 1/3 in the rest of the provinces and territories.
The provinces see wind energy as an important source of new electricity generation and current provincial targets and initiatives could result in a further quadrupling of installed wind energy capacity in the next six years. A summary of provincial wind power targets can be found on CanWEA’s website at www.canwea.ca.
Wind energy has long been seen as a possibility for Canada’s northern and remote communities to reduce the cost of diesel generated electricity, and to ensure a more sustainable energy supply. However, wind farm projects in Canada’s North have had mixed success. Commercial wind turbines have been operating in the Yukon for over 15 years in extremely harsh icing conditions.
Yet, wind-diesel projects in the NWT and Nunavut stopped operating after about a year. That being said, there are at least eight communities in the Canadian Arctic that are currently monitoring their wind resources, with the hopes of developing wind energy projects (1).
Furthermore, CanWEA has been working with its Northern Caucus to create a federal Remote Community Wind Incentive Program (ReCWIP), specifically to assist wind energy development in the North.
National incentive programs
The Government of Canada continues to accelerate the growth of Canada’s wind power sector through a range of mechanisms including:
• ecoENERGY for Renewable Power or ERP (www.ecoaction.gc.ca );
• accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) Class 43.1 and 43.2; and,
• Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expenses (CRCE).
Canada’s Wind Technology Roadmap (Wind TRM) process brought together over 100 representatives from industry, government and academia. Together, they identified barriers to achieving the Wind TRM vision such as:
• Challenges in securing broad action-oriented public support for wind energy;
• Challenges facing the Canadian industry in its efforts to establish a strong domestic wind energy manufacturing and services base;
• Challenges in human resources and skills development; and,
• Challenges in advancing R&D in wind.
According to CanWEA, new wind developments represented more than $2.2 billion in investment last year. Furthermore, achieving Wind Vision 2025 will pay huge dividends to Canada by:
• Generating $79 billion of new investment;
• Creating at least 52,000 new fulltime “green collar jobs”, including many in rural communities (approximately half in manufacturing and a third in operations and servicing); and,
• Producing $165 million in new annual revenues for local governments in property taxes, and an equal amount in annual payments to landowners.
Adding 55,000 MW of wind generated capacity will also cut Canada’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 17 Megatonnes, replace up to 20 million litres of diesel fuel per year (in northern and remote communities), stabilize electricity prices, and strengthen Canada’s electrical grids.
In January 2009, Ontario Power Authority (OPA) awarded 20-year contracts to 6 wind power projects, for a total of 492 MW. The projects are expected to be in service by the end of 2012. The OPA estimates that the economic impact of six successful projects will be as follows:
• Total investment: $1.32 billion
• Number of jobs created: About 2,200 direct and indirect jobs
• Annual combined lease payments to landowners hosting turbines: $3 million
• Total annual municipal tax revenues to host communities: $1 million.
The University of Moncton in New Brunswick recently completed a case study on the economic impact of a generic 100MW wind farm project in New Brunswick (2). Using publicly available financial data from a representative group of projects in Eastern Canada, it is estimated that a 100 MW wind farm requires a $200 million investment.
Based on the current costs to build, finance and operate a 100 MW wind farm in Eastern Canada, the study estimates that the owners of the 100 MW wind farm could accumulate profits of more than $200 million over life of the project (approximately 25 years). This does not take into consideration possible future revenues from carbon credits.
In a different study, GE Energy Financial Services concludes that investment in wind energy could yield a financial return for the Government of Canada (3). GE estimated the following costs and revenues from an average Canadian wind project financed in 2009: C$2500/kW project cost, 33 percent average lifetime capacity factor, 7.3 ¢/kWh revenue, and average O&M cost of C$30/kW per year.
In Canada, wind farms are typically owned by independent power producers (IPPs), utilities, or income funds (Can-WEA maintains a list of wind farm owners/operators, www.canwea.ca). Electricity generated is sold to utilities by means of a power purchase agreement (PPA) or, as in the case of deregulated markets such as in Alberta, it is sold on the spot market. In some jurisdictions, including in Québec and British Columbia, a call for tenders is issued so wind power producers must compete for contracts to sell power to utilities.
The utilities can therefore obtain electricity at the best rate. Community wind power is in its infancy in Canada, but in provinces like Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, interest in community wind is growing. One such example is the 54 MW Pukwis Community Wind Farm (www.pukwis.ca). The Wind Farm is a joint venture between the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation and Windfall Ecology Centre. Collaboration on Pukwis began in 2003, and Pukwis Phase I (20 MW) is now ready to move from feasibility to construction.
Examples of other wind energy cooperatives in Ontario include:
• WindShare Co-op in Toronto, ON- 600 kW, operational since 2002;
• Lakewind Power Co-op near Kincardine, ON – 10 x 2MW, submitted a FIT contract application;
• Positive Power Co-op on the north shore of Lake Erie, ON – 2 x 1.5MW, completing environmental
In the province of Québec, Val-Éo (www.val-eo.com) is a wind energy cooperative formed by landowners, municipalities and citizens. In 2007, Val-Éo submitted a 50MW project in response to Hydro Québec’s call for tenders, but was not selected. Val-Éo is preparing for the next call for tender.
Lamèque Renewable Energy Cooperative initiated a wind energy project that is presently under development in New Brunswick. Acciona Energy Canada, and a local development partner Wind Dynamics, are constructing the 49.5 MW wind power facility on Lamèque Island. New Brunswick Power and Acciona have signed a 25-year power purchase agreement.
British Columbia’s Bear Mountain Wind Farm is wholly owned by AltaGas Income Trust. However, Peace Energy Cooperative (who initiated the project), retains an interest that will pay dividends for 25 years. Seven years ago, Peace Energy secured the rights to develop the wind resource and found a developer to undertake the project. The Cooperative has received a fee for its part in bringing the project to fruition.
In February 2009, CanWEA held Canada’s first-ever seminar on supply chain opportunities in Canada’s growing wind energy industry. According to a panel of experts who spoke at the seminar, the North American supply chain for the wind industry is in its infancy. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have to balance high transportation costs for imported goods with competitive pricing, because of barriers to entry for potential Canadian and North American component suppliers.
The focus for the coming years will be to develop a North American supply chain that includes sourcing materials closer to home, simplifying supply chain processes, reducing lead times and reducing costs. AAER, a manufacturer of wind turbines (up to 2MW), sources 55% of its components in Canada.
In September 2009, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and CanWEA announced a strategic partnership to “explore Canadian manufacturing opportunities in the growing global wind energy industry”. The two national associations will partner to produce a co-branded market report that explores and outlines the opportunities, the challenges, and the actions required to “ensure Canada earns its share of new wind energy manufacturing and component production”.
Canada’s large land base provides many potential sites for onshore wind farms, and onshore sites are far cheaper to exploit than offshore sites. That being said, enthusiasm for offshore is building momentum and several offshore projects have either been proposed or are under development Canada’s first offshore wind energy project is likely going to be Naikun Wind Energy Group Inc.’s project. Nai-Kun (www.naikun.ca) plans to develop a 396MW wind energy project off the northwest coast of British Columbia, in Hecate Straight.
NaiKun’s project has been granted a provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate from the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), and is under “active consideration” by BC Hydro (who recently provided an update on B.C.’s Clean Power Call).
Wind turbines built offshore in the Great Lakes have the potential to generate almost 21,000 MW of power, according to Trillium Power Wind Corp (www.trilliumpower.com). The wind developer
has plans to build Trillium Power Wind 1 (TPW1) – a 142 turbine, 710 MW project, 17km to 28km from the shores of eastern Lake Ontario.
Furthermore, Toronto Hydro, SouthPoint Wind and Canadian Hydro Developers (recently acquired by TransAlta) are also exploring development in the Great Lakes.
Canada has many remote and northern sites that require electricity including communities, industrial and remote communications sites. Hybrid wind-diesel systems reduce overall diesel fuel consumption, reduce the cost of electricity production and help to shelter communities from fuel price volatility. Ramea, an island off the coast of Newfoundland, hosts Canada’s only operational wind-diesel system.
A hydrogen storage component has since been added to the system, resulting in a unique wind-hydrogen-diesel system. The new system is undergoing performance monitoring and further R&D.
Eleven wind farms were commissioned across seven provinces in 2009. Summary data follows:
• Installed capacity per wind farm: 6.6-197.8 MW
• Wind farm locations (provinces): ON, PE, NL, BC, AB, NB, QC
• Turbine manufacturers and models: Vestas V80, V82 and V90, Siemens SWT-2.3, Enercon E82, GE 1.5MW
• Turbine sizes: 1.5 -3 MW
• Average wind turbine size: 2MW
• Average estimated capacity factor: 34%
R, D&D Activities
Canada’s federal departments and agencies in the energy domain are developing a consolidated approach to energy research, development, and demonstration (www.science.gc.ca). Science & Technology (S&T) performed in the energy domain is aimed at:
• improving the integration of intermittent renewable sources (like wind) and small-scale generation systems within the electrical grid;
• improving the economics and efficiency; and,
• reducing the environmental impacts of conversion of renewable energy to electricity.
The focus of Canada’s wind energy R&D activities continues to be the advancement and development of safe, reliable, and economic wind turbine technology. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is one of several government departments active in wind energy R&D. NRCan’s R&D priority areas include: small wind turbines, large wind turbines, codes and standards, and the Wind TRM. NRCan also works with other organizations on wind turbine standard development.
Environment Canada maintains the Canadian Wind Energy Atlas, and conducts research on wind forecasting and wind resource assessment. Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) conducts research on the impact of wind turbines on wildlife.
Health Canada supports the development of siting guidelines for wind farms. National Research Council conducts research on the aerodynamics of wind turbines and siting of wind farms in complex terrain.
The Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) is an independent certification body. SWCC is attempting to address concerns about reliability, by providing a common North American standard for reporting small wind turbine energy and sound performance, as well as a labeling scheme to allow consumers to reliably predict and compare performance.
NRCan continues to support this effort by working on technology improvements for small wind turbines including cold climate R&D of cold climate certification standards. Furthermore, NRCan is providing financial support to Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) for performance assessment and reliability testing of small wind turbines installed in Saskatchewan, under the net metering program. This is a collaborative effort between SRC and WEICan.
Cold climates, offshore opportunities, wind integration and large wind turbine drive trains are areas of significant international interest that have important applications in Canada. Participation in the International Energy Agency Wind Implementing Agreement within this program is an important means of establishing international collaboration in cold climate research.
Canada is laying the groundwork for offshore wind development on the Great Lakes through research on the behavior of offshore wind, and the tools that could be used to assess the wind resources, as well as through participation in projects that assess the impacts of offshore wind development. Toronto Hydro’s wind research platform (anemometer) approximately 1.2 km offshore in Lake Ontario is being support, in part by NRCan.
NRCan is also providing financial support to a Canadian company for development and demonstration of a permanent magnet generator for large wind turbines. Codes and standards development focuses on adapting international standards to the Canadian climate and context.
NRCan is an active member of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Technical Committee, and participates in the development of wind turbine standards, such as Small Wind Turbine Standard and Offshore Wind Turbine Standard. Environment Canada is working on incorporating cloud-to-ground lightning climatology and design icing conditions (that account for the different types of icing that occurs in Canada) into wind turbine standards.
Canada continues to work on harmonizing Canadian standards with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards, which are being developed by 17 participating countries. Canada’s Wind TRM (www.windtrm.gc.ca) is an industry-led, government supported initiative. NRCan’s Wind R&D Team facilitated a series of stakeholder workshops with the objective of identifying key technology gaps and opportunities in wind energy, in Canada.
A total of three workshops were held in 2009, with over 75 key players from industry and academia attending each workshop. The resulting action plan is designed to encourage the growth of domestic wind energy expertise, and the development of wind energy technology specifically relevant to Canada.
In May 2009, the Government of Canada announced a $1B CEF. The Fund (www.nrcan.gc.ca/eneene/indexeng.php) will provide $150 million over five years for clean energy R&D. It will also provide $850 million over five years for the demonstration of promising technologies, including renewable energy and clean energy systems demonstrations. The government issued a call for proposals in the fall of 2009, for “Renewable Energy and Clean Energy Systems Demonstration Projects”. Those that are selected for funding will be announced in 2010.
In Canada, there are a number of publicly funded organizations active in wind energy research:
• NSERC Wind Energy Strategic Network (WESNet) is a Canada wide multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research network. During 2009, WESNet focused on implementing its research programs and enhancing research collaboration. Details on research in the four thematic areas can be found at www.wesnet.ca.
• Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICan) is a wind energy research and testing facility, located in the province of Prince Edward Island. In December of 2009, WEICan (www.weican.ca) announced that the Zephyr Airdolphin Z1000, manufactured in Japan, will undergo type testing leading to certification at WEICan’s North Cape site. Two other wind turbines have already participated in the testing leading to certification program: Cleanfield’s V3.5 and Raum Energy’s 1.3 kW.
• The Wind Energy TechnoCentre (www.eolien.qc.ca) is a not-forprofit organization whose mission is to contribute to the development of an industrial wind energy network in Québec. The TechnoCentre has recently constructed a 4 MW wind farm at Site Nordique Expérimental en Éolien CORUS (SNEEC), in partnership with manufacturer REpower.
The wind farm provides the TechnoCentre with a platform for offering a broader range of services to the wind power industry, specifically relevant to turbine performance and reliability in cold climates.
The Next Term
The Canadian wind energy industry will continue to mature and grow beyond 2010. Approximately 4,000 MW of new wind energy projects already have signed contracts, and are expected to be commissioned over the next few years. There will likely be a need for new transmission facilities to accommodate wind energy development in provinces such as Ontario and Alberta.
The provinces will make progress towards fulfilling renewable portfolio standards and targets. New power purchase agreements for wind energy projects are anticipated in several provinces. Many jurisdictions will also be working on strengthening their policy frameworks to support wind energy development.
The real impact of Ontario’s Green Energy Act will be felt in 2010, when the province signs its first contracts under the new feed-in-tariff program FIT. Cost of generation remains the most important barrier to increasing wind deployment in Canada. Federal and provincial incentives will continue to have a significant impact on reducing cost.
Canada’s R&D efforts will also advance wind turbine technology and wind energy development in an effort to reduce the cost of wind generated electricity. R&D priority areas include: small wind turbines, large wind turbines, codes and standards, and methods and tools for wind resource assessment and forecasting.
Several of Canada’s northern and remote communities are currently monitoring their wind resources, with the hopes of developing wind energy projects. Programs and initiatives that accelerate the adoption of wind energy technologies in the Canadian Arctic are under development.
Expanding the use of wind-diesel technology and its application in northern communities would reduce overall diesel fuel consumption and reduce the cost of electricity production.
Enthusiasm for offshore wind is building momentum in Canada, and several offshore projects have either been proposed or are under development. Trillium Power Wind, Toronto Hydro, SouthPoint Wind and Canadian Hydro Developers (recently acquired by TransAlta) are all exploring development in the Great Lakes.
Canadian manufacturers will continue to explore opportunities, challenges and actions required to ensure Canada has a place in the growing global wind energy industry. The priority for the coming years will be to develop a North American supply chain that includes sourcing materials closer to home, simplifying supply chain processes, reducing lead times and reducing costs.
Canada’s massive wind energy potential remains largely untapped – it ranks 11th in total installed wind energy capacity, and 18th in terms of the contribution of wind generated electricity to national electricity demand. By encouraging the growth of domestic wind energy expertise and the development of wind energy technology specifically relevant to the Canadian context, Canada can realize many benefits – to the economy, society and environment.
(1) Government of NWT, 2007 Remote Community Wind Energy Conference Proceedings download
(2) University of Moncton, Economic Impact Assessment of a 100MW Wind Farm Project in New Brunswick download
(3) GE Financial Services, Study – Canada’s ecoENERGY Investment in Renewables Pays Off for Taxpayers download
By Melinda Tan, NRCan, Canada. www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/com/index-eng.php