Wind Energy: British Columbia’s Low-Cost Clean and Renewable Choice
British Columbia’s first wind farm began commercial operations in November 2009. Today, the province has almost 500 MW of installed wind energy capacity, supplying nearly two per cent of British Columbia’s electricity demand.
While there remains an opportunity for wind to fill a niche market created by BC Hydro’s standing offer program for renewable energy projects up to 15 MW in size, the province appears unlikely to require new large-scale generation for at least a decade.
Over the medium- to longer-term, however, the potential for B.C. to better utilize its abundant, world-class wind resource is strong.
The provincial government’s new climate strategy adopts a long-term target of emissions reduction by 80 per cent of 2007 levels by 2050. The plan also takes important steps towards increased electrification of the transportation sector.
Increased supplies of zero-emission energy will be key to realizing these goals, and BC Hydro’s own analyses have shown that wind is the lowest-cost option for new renewable electricity generation. As a major electricity exporter, BC Hydro also has an opportunity to bundle wind and hydro to deliver a product that meet green energy requirements of states in the western U.S.
British Columbia’s electricity needs could also ramp up quickly as the oil and gas sector recovers, and progress continues on proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants. This creates a need for new supply in the near term. Wind projects can be deployed quickly and at a scale that matches demand, making it an ideal choice to step in and fill the gap.
The B.C. government intends to create new opportunities for independent power producers and First Nations, laying a foundation for wind energy producers to play a growing role as the province increasingly electrifies its economy to meet climate goals.
By strategically exploiting huge reserves of renewable energy resources, the province can build a more resilient, geographically diverse, and affordable power system that will benefit B.C. families and businesses for generations to come.
Wind by the numbers in BC (December 2015)
Number of Installations: 5
Number of Wind Turbines: 217
Total Installed Capacity (MW): 489
Average Turbine Capacity (MW): 2.25
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