Wind Energy Costs in British Columbia

Wind energy is a cost-competitive and clean choice to supply the significant amounts of new electricity the province will require due to increased industrial development. The cost of developing clean wind energy has dropped significantly in the past three years while technology improvements have increased productivity, an analysis by GL Garrad Hassan has found. The report commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) updates older cost and productivity estimates of 121 potential onshore wind development sites across British Columbia that are used by BC Hydro for electricity system analysis and CanWEA hopes this new data can make a useful contribution to the work underway to develop a new Integrated Resource Plan for the province.

The report found that wind turbine prices have dropped by 20 per cent since 2009 while at the same time the productivity of turbines has increased by as much as 27 per cent. The report is available at:

“BC Hydro is facing an incredible challenge over the next decade as new LNG plants and mining activity drive electricity demand up by a third – or 16,500 GWh,” said Nicholas Heap, BC Regional Director for CanWEA. “Fortunately, this new analysis clearly shows that with wind energy we have an abundant cost-effective, zero-emission option to supply this new demand. British Columbians choose wind energy and other renewables as their top choice for new power in repeated polling, so this is a win-win for the province.”

The GL Garrad Hassan report, The 2012 Assessment of Wind Energy Costs in British Columbia, found that there are 4,700 gigawatt hours per year (GWh/yr) of electricity available in British Columbia with a lifetime cost of energy (LCOE) under $87/megawatt hour and 18,000 GWh/yr under $95/megawatt hour, excluding only utility contract terms and the cost of the substations required to connect these resources to the existing grid. According to BC Hydro’s newly released Integrated Resource Plan, Site C will generate 5,100 GWh/yr for approximately the same unit energy cost.

“With lower production costs and improvements in wind turbine technology, harnessing British Columbia’s wind resource is now an even better option for generating large amounts of, affordable zero-emission renewable energy,” said Heap. “With a much shorter construction time than large-scale hydro, wind energy is an obvious solution to meeting BC’s energy demand. Investing in wind energy will drive homegrown job creation for our skilled trades and the construction sector while also providing significant new economic benefits to regional areas hit hard by other resource declines.”

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 420 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.