Wind energy – a bright spot for Ontario’s economy, including manufacturing
November 4, 2016
More wind energy means more good-paying jobs, additions to GDP, local community benefits, affordable electricity, and a cleaner environment
Ontario has depended on manufacturing over the decades to fuel its prosperity. But manufacturing jobs have declined from 15.8 per cent to 10.3 per cent of Ontario’s workforce from 2004 to 2014 – a drop of 300,000 jobs, according to a study by the Mowat Centre.
Against this decline, the wind energy sector is increasingly a bright spot for Ontario’s economy, including manufacturing. In Tillsonburg, for example, more than 300 locals work at the Siemens wind turbine blade plant – formerly an auto parts factory.
Across Ontario, jobs, wages and benefits, GDP and infrastructure investment are benefiting from growth in the wind energy sector. According to a 2015 Compass Renewable Energy Consulting report, between 2006 and 2030, based on Ontario’s last long-term energy plan, wind energy in Ontario will have the following economic impacts:
- 73,000 direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs;
- $5.1 billion of wages and benefits for Ontario workers;
- $7 billion of direct and indirect GDP benefits; and
- $14 billion in total investment.
This includes the development of an Ontario supply chain with a growing global focus, including component manufacturing and professional services. It also includes an influx of funds to local Ontario economies in the form of land lease payments, municipal property taxes, and community vibrancy funds over the 25 years of wind farm operations.
Ontario’s decision to nurture a clean energy economy was a smart investment and additional investments in wind energy will provide an increasingly good news story for the province’s electricity customers.
Wind energy costs have declined significantly, while other forms of electricity generation have seen costs increase. In the March 2016 procurement of wind energy, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator selected five projects representing 300 megawatts at an average cost of 8.59 cents per kilowatt hour. This is well under Ontario’s average electricity generation supply cost of 11.14 cents per kilowatt hour as of May 1, 2016.
It should get even better. Wind energy costs are forecast to keep declining in Ontario and globally. In its most recent procurement, the province contracted for new wind energy as low as 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour. New wind energy should make electricity more affordable for customers, and Ontario’s industries and businesses more competitive.
Economic wind power will also be essential if Ontario is to achieve planned greenhouse gas emission reductions of 80 per cent over 1990 levels by 2050 as emissions-free electricity will be needed to supplant fossil fuels in buildings, industry and transportation. That should mean a growing role for wind energy as the province updates its Long-Term Energy Plan.
Additional wind energy will add to the economic benefits already locked in to 2030. According to the Compass study, increasing wind power by just another 1,000 megawatts beyond what is built and contracted will add another 7,000 full-time equivalent jobs for Ontarians, as well as benefits to the overall economy and local communities.
Good-paying jobs, additions to GDP, local community benefits, affordable electricity, and a cleaner environment – these are the results of continuing to develop Ontario’s wind energy sector.
Featured Photo: Brandy Giannetta, Regional Director, Ontario, of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) speaks during a second day plenary session at the association’s annual conference and exhibition in Calgary, Alta. on Wednesday, Nov. 2 2016. Bryan Passifiume/CanWEA