Wind Energy: Helping Alberta Green its Grid
Wind energy is an established and growing player in the Alberta electricity market, providing clean and renewable electricity to complement conventional energy sources and to diversify Alberta’s electricity generation mix.
Canada’s first commercial wind farm, today owned by TransAlta, was installed at Cowley Ridge in Southern Alberta in 1993. Alberta ranks third in Canada with an installed wind energy capacity of 1,471 MW. The amount of electricity produced by the province’s wind farms is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power approximately 625,000 average sized homes for one year.
Alberta’s electricity market is a deregulated merchant market that allows anyone to enter the market if they believe they can obtain sufficient revenues in order to ensure their project is economical. As most wind energy projects are project financed, however, the lack of revenue certainty associated with the project makes it extremely difficult to secure or compete for funds to finance these long-lived and capital intensive projects. Most of the wind energy currently operating in Alberta was able to proceed because it received some revenue certainty from outside the Alberta electricity market (e.g., federal production incentives, sale of renewable energy credits to other jurisdictions). These opportunities no longer exist and, as a result, Alberta’s unique energy-only market will need to evolve if the province is to secure any significant future wind energy investment.
Wind by the numbers in Alberta (September 2015)
Number of Installations: 37
Number of Wind Turbines: 941
Total Installed Capacity (MW): 1,471
Average Turbine Capacity (MW): 1.56
Wind energy is providing clean, affordable power and investments for Alberta. Successful host communities are being further sustained by growth in incomes for rural landowners, new tax revenues, and employment opportunities for trades people and contractors. Download the Alberta Wind. For My Community. brochure to see just a few of Alberta’s success stories.
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