In an op-ed for the Winnipeg Free Press, Associate Professor Werner Antweiler said now is the time for Manitoba Hydro to invest in the future of Manitobans using its "international trade advantage in hydro resources."

Antweiler, a professor of economics specializing in international trade, explained how Manitoba Hydro can take advantage of record-breaking investment in renewable energy like solar and wind.

"Hydroelectric power and intermittent energy sources are natural partners. As the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine, fluctuations in output need to be met with reserve capacity. This could expand the role for hydro provinces."
- Associate Professor Werner Antweiler

The need for reserve capacity is an opportunity for stable renewable sources, like hydro, he wrote.

"Turbines powered by hydroelectric dams can be ramped up and down relatively quickly, and this allows hydroelectricity to play a stabilizing role in the electric grid," he wrote. "Manitoba and other hydro-rich provinces have a bright electricity future if they invest in new generation capacity and interconnections, with an eye to long-term benefits."

He outlined two investment options for expanding Manitoba's electricity grid: one, industrial-scale flow batteries, and two, trade-in electricity across borders, to the United States and other provinces. Manitoba exported $370 million worth of electricity to Minnesota in 2015 and is already working to expand its export volume by 40 per cent, but Minnesota is only one of many options.

"The challenge will be to direct exports to markets where prices are high, pay for developing new generation stations and earn profits to benefit Manitobans," Antweiler wrote.

Werner Antweiler is UBC Sauder's Chair in International Trade Policy as well as Chair of the Strategy and Business Economics Division. He regularly writes on economic issues on his blog.

Read the full op-ed here.

Top image source: Wyman Laliberte on Flickr.