Canada’s growing wind turbine fleet generates new business opportunities
Canada had 6,288 wind turbines totaling more than 11,898 MW of installed capacity operating at the end of 2016, the eighth largest wind generating fleet in the world. With wind energy costs still falling after already plummeting 66 per cent since 2009, the industry will only continue to grow.
The need to keep these assets operating as safely and efficiently as possible is sparking a boom in the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) side of Canada’s wind energy business, a market expected to increase from about $290 million a year today to an estimated $450 million by 2020, and bring new jobs and investment along with it. It is also driving the development of innovative new tools and technologies to unlock even more value from Canada’s investment in wind energy. Getting the most out of wind energy facilities is not only good for owners and operators, but also our environment and economy.
As we transition to a low-carbon economy powered by zero-emission technologies, responsible and sustainable operation of our generating facilities ensures that wind energy will play a leading role.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) works closely with the industry to understand and respond to emerging needs in this area. Our initiatives include providing networking and information sharing opportunities for asset managers, collecting and analyzing data to support company and government decision-making, and developing best-practice guidelines to help operators ensure wind energy projects continue to meet community expectations through their operating lives.
Operations and Maintenance Program
CanWEA has created a new O&M program to bring together stakeholders to address key challenges facing Canadian wind farm operators. Its key areas of focus are determined by program participants, and include benchmarking data, health and safety best practices, improved networking, and information sharing on critical issues like wildlife and the environment. A company must be a Leading Edge, Champion or Advocate corporate member in good standing to be eligible to participate in this exclusive program. CanWEA has also formed an O&M Caucus, along with sub-groups that include health and safety and O&M Summit program committees, and operator’s groups in Western and Atlantic Canada to complement the industry-led forums already in place in Ontario and Quebec. CanWEA is also working closely with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) to develop and refine the O&M program.
CanWEA also offers technical information and O&M-related reports to all members.
- Phil McKay, CanWEA’s Operations and Maintenance Program Director, writes periodic O&M blogs analyzing issues of importance to the sector.
- CanWEA’s In The News page links readers to current news about the wind energy industry in Canada, including articles focused on wind farm O&M.
- Occasional news releases on O&M topics can be found on CanWEA’s Press Releases page.
- An important element of CanWEA’s Best Practices for Community Engagement and Public Consultation is ongoing communication with host communities during the operational phase of a wind project, giving local stakeholders confidence that the wind energy industry will continue to meet their expectations over the long-term.
- CanWEA, the Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICan), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and wind owners and operators throughout Canada continue to collaborate on performance and availability data benchmarking to help provide a foundation for short- and long-term O&M planning.
- The University of Windsor, Kruger Energy, the Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICan) and Enbridge have joint forces to conduct a YEAR21 research project designed to help operators make long-term O&M investment decisions.
- Researchers at Quebec’s Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) have conducted a review of the occupational health and safety risks in the wind energy sector.
- Companies like TransAlta, one of the largest wind energy owners and operators in Canada, are developing new tools to help them optimize the operation and maintenance of their wind turbine fleets.