Hydro resources provide significant wind integration potential
Manitoba currently has four wind energy facilities in operation, totaling 258 MW of capacity. That’s enough to supply 2.5 per cent of the province’s electricity demand.
Manitoba Hydro’s extensive network of flexible hydroelectric resources are valuable when it comes to integrating wind energy. The utility recognized this potential in a 2011 hydropower purchase agreement with Minnesota Power that included a unique “wind storage” provision, allowing the U.S. utility to import power northward where it will be absorbed into Manitoba Hydro’s electricity system.
Manitoba Hydro has the opportunity to expand this approach by using reservoirs to store and reshape their own excellent wind resources, adding value to the province’s export products. Exports already account for about one-fifth of the utility’s overall electricity revenues, and bundling wind and hydro would allow additional market access for renewable energy credits not available to large hydro alone.
Diversifying its generation mix helps manage the risk of Manitoba’s heavy reliance on hydro resources, which can be adversely affected by drought and the long-term impacts of climate change. As well, diversification will bring new jobs and investment to rural communities throughout the province.
Wind by the numbers in Manitoba (December 2015)
Number of installations: 4
Number of Wind Turbines: 133
Total Installed Capacity (MW): 258 MW
Average Turbine Capacity (MW): 1.94 MW