Wind energy ready to deliver wind power as part of BC’s new energy strategy

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is encouraged by British Columbia’s commitment to "clean and green" power in the province’s new natural gas strategy, released today. The Association is concerned, however, that the province is choosing to meet its rapidly emerging new demand for electricity in the short term by increasing its reliance on imported fossil-fuel electricity.

"We look forward to working with the Government to ensure BC retains its strong leadership on clean energy and climate change," said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. "A call for power will ensure energy needs can be met quickly by local, low-impact renewable energy sources such as wind. Delaying this may lead investors in renewable energy to focus their attention on other markets in the short term and represents a lost opportunity for BC."

Hornung also underlined the risk of volatile pricing for imported gas generation.

"Not only does BC have extensive wind energy resources, but wind power’s fuel is free. Purchase price contracts with BC Hydro are locked in for 20 to 25 years. That means price certainty and long term energy savings for BC ratepayers," Hornung said. "The fact is, today’s new clean wind energy generation projects are tomorrow’s low cost heritage assets."

CanWEA’s WindVision2025: A Strategy for BC identifies the significant opportunity for the growth of wind energy in the province of British Columbia due to its plentiful [and low-cost] wind resource, its heritage hydroelectric facilities and the province’s accelerating demand for affordable and clean electricity. CanWEA’s vision for British Columbia calls on the BC government to install 5,250 MW of cost-competitive and low-impact wind power capacity by 2025.

This homegrown wind energy would generate $16 billion in new investment with $3.7 billion flowing directly to BC communities and meet 17 per cent of BC’s total electricity demand. It would also generate an estimated 22,500 person-years of employment during construction, and 7,500 person-years of employment over the 20 to 25 year operations and maintenance phase of the resulting wind energy projects.

Wind energy is well positioned to limit huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that would result from powering new industrial developments with fossil fuels, according to a report by the Pembina Institute. The report, GHG Reductions from Enhanced Electrification of Potential New Industrial Demand in British Columbia, finds that implementing CanWEA’s WindVision for BC would reduce annual GHG emissions by as much as 8.86 MT CO2eq by 2025 – or the equivalent of converting nearly 2 million passenger cars and trucks into zero-emission vehicles.

There is high support for wind energy among British Columbians. An Oracle Research poll commissioned by CanWEA in late 2011 found that 76 per cent of British Columbians strongly agree or agree wind energy should be further developed as a source of clean electricity. The poll found that 84 per cent of British Columbians want the province to produce enough power to meet the needs of residents without importing energy.

"British Columbia is blessed with a world-class wind resource, which can power the province with emissions-free electricity while also creating jobs and delivering local benefits," said Hornung. "The time is now for BC to act decisively to expand wind energy integration as a key energy component in building a stronger, cleaner and more affordable power system for BC families and businesses."

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 440 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 turbines by 2025.