By Jonny Wakefield
January 21, 2016
Canada ranks seventh worldwide in total installed wind power capacity after a banner year for the industry, according to a new report.
The country added 1,506 megawatts of wind power to electricity grids in 2015, the Canadian Wind Energy Association announced last week, bringing the total to 11,205 megawatts of installed capacity. Wind turbines now supply five per cent of Canada’s electricity demand.
Thirty-six projects were commissioned in 2015, making Canada the sixth-largest adopter of wind power last year.
However, growth slowed somewhat compared to 2014, when the industry built 1,871 megawatts worth of wind projects.
China has led the globe in wind power uptake, installing 23,196 megawatts in 2014 alone—accounting for 45.1 per cent of new capacity worldwide that year. Germany was second with 5,279 megawatts, followed by the U.S. (4,854), Brazil (2,472), India (2,315) and Canada (1,871).
Overall, Canada has seen 23 per cent annual growth in the industry over the past five years. Meanwhile, a U.S. report recently found that the cost of utility-scale wind power has dropped 60 per cent over the last six years.
The association’s president, Robert Hornung, said over $3 billion were invested in new wind energy projects in 2015.
“Wind energy is now providing economic growth and diversification to well over 100 rural communities across Canada through land lease income, tax payments and community benefits agreements,” Hornung said in the release.
Ontario promises to be the leading province for wind installation in the coming years, and added another 871 megawatts in 2015 to bring its total to 4,361 megawatts. Another 2,000 megawatts are slated to be built “in the next few years.” Next was Quebec with 397 megawatts of new capacity, followed by Nova Scotia (186 megawatts), Alberta (29 megawatts) and Saskatchewan (23 megawatts). Alberta, the third-largest wind market in Canada overall, is expected to surge as the province phases out its coal-fired power plants.
B.C., meanwhile, “held steady” with 489 megawatts of installed capacity as the industry continues to receive mixed signals from the provincial government. In 2014, CanWEA called for a “clear signal” from the province on its intentions for independent power producers in the wake of the approval of the Site C dam on the Peace River.
While work did begin on the 185-megawatt Meikle wind project near Tumbler Ridge in early 2015, many other potential projects await a new call for clean power as B.C.’s energy demand slackens.