Canadian wind power sets records, but B.C. lags behind

Wind Farm in the Snow

By Jonny Wakefield

January 22, 2015

New projects in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta contributed to a record setting year for Canadian wind power, an industry group says.

Last week, the Canadian Wind Energy Association announced that 1,871 megawatts of new wind power were brought online in 2014—up from the 1,600 megawatts installed in 2013. 

While a banner year across the rest of Canada, B.C. was largely out of the wind picture in 2014.

Ontario led growth with around 999 megawatts in new power. Quebec finished second with 460, while new Alberta projects accounted for 350 megawatts.

The association said investors poured around $3.5 billion into wind projects last year.  

B.C.'s absence from the list underscores some of the tension between independent power producers and the provincial government.

In the wake of last year's approval of the Site C dam, CanWEA issued a release saying the decision to go ahead with the $8.77 billion project further muddied the waters for wind power producers.

The province's decision to go ahead with the 1,100 megawatt dam "failed to provide any signals about either the timing or scale of future market opportunities for wind energy in the province," the association wrote in a release.  

"With no call for power in B.C. since 2008, the wind energy industry will need a clear signal soon or companies will shift their focus and investments to more promising markets that offer more certainty for investors," CanWEA president Robert Hornung said.

The province's first commercial wind farm came online in 2009. Wind currently accounts for around 488 megawatts of generating capacity in B.C., around two per cent of demand.

CanWEA expects that 1,500 megawatts of wind power capacity will be built in 2015—mostly in the same three provinces.  

2015 "will see new wind energy contracts awarded in Ontario, a new Energy Strategy in Quebec and a new climate change framework in Alberta that may open the door to accelerated wind energy development in that province," Hornung said.