Five reasons why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply
October 11, 2018
There are five reasons why the Ontario government should turn to new wind energy to support affordability and lower future electricity bills.
Ontario’s new government is focused on finding efficiencies in the electricity sector that promote affordability and is also developing a new approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here are five reasons why the province should turn to new wind energy to meet these goals.
- Wind energy is now the lowest-cost new electricity source.
Wind energy is the lowest-cost source of new electricity generation available to Ontario, other provinces, and globally. Alberta recently agreed to procure power from four wind generation projects at an average contract price of 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour – a price that is considerably below the cost of power generation in Ontario today. And, as other forms of energy increase in price, wind energy prices continue to fall. According to the Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2017, the levelized cost of new electricity from onshore wind will drop 47 per cent by 2040.
Wind power has no fuel costs (the wind is free), and technological advances continue to increase capacity factors while lowering costs.
As for the misperception that wind energy has been a major contributor to Ontario electricity bills, see Wind energy and Ontario’s electricity prices – let’s destroy the myth.
- Wind energy provides significant economic benefits.
Ontario leads Canada in wind energy operations and wind energy supplies almost 8 per cent of the province’s electricity demand. The wind energy industry also provides many economic benefits to Ontario:
- Thousands of well paying, much-needed jobs in manufacturing, construction and local services;
- A stable source of income for landowners;
- Property tax revenue for municipalities;
- Funding for community-based initiatives;
- New and sustainable revenue for Indigenous partners; and
- Ontario’s wind energy industry is at the heart of a growing wind turbine operations and maintenance business for Canada’s 6400+ wind turbines.
- Wind energy will be necessary if Ontario is to keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable through the next decade.
Studies by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator forecast a need for significant new electricity generation, especially from 2023 onwards, as the Pickering Nuclear station shuts down, other nuclear units are being refurbished, and generation contracts expire.
New wind energy would help keep Ontario’s electricity supply reliable, as well as more affordable. A study of Canada’s wind energy resources has shown that Canada can get more than one-third of its electricity from wind energy without compromising grid reliability. Other jurisdictions around the world are proving this – for example, Denmark now produces more than 44 per cent of its electricity from wind turbines on an annual basis, and in the U.S., four states now generate 30 per cent or more of their electricity using wind energy.
Wind energy is quick to construct, can be built to meet specific local needs, and can offer flexible power – especially when paired with energy storage, demand response programs, and/or other non-emitting and renewable energies such as hydro and solar.
- Wind energy provides many services to system operators to keep electricity supply flexible.
Wind energy can also provide a suite of electricity grid services, often more nimbly and more cost effectively than conventional sources, helping to ensure reliable and flexible electricity supply. These services include: operating reserve, regulation, reactive support, voltage control, primary frequency response, load following, and inertia and fast frequency response.
According to Debra Lew, technical director of GE Energy Consulting, “In some ways wind … can provide better ancillary services than conventional generators,” because wind turbines can produce a faster and more aggressive response.
- Wind energy is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Ontario has achieved a 90 per cent reduction in electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions over the past 15 years, and wind energy has been an important contributor. Wind turbines do not emit greenhouse gases, just as they do not pollute the air.
As Ontario continues to tackle climate change, it must continue reducing carbon emissions and increase electricity’s role in industry, transportation and our buildings. Wind energy will be one of the go-to technologies for reducing the province’s emissions, while also keeping its electricity affordable, reliable and economically beneficial to the province and its communities.
If you liked this blog, you might also like my blog on our 2018 CanWEA Annual Conference and Exhibition, and also our updated Ontario Wind Market webpage.
Ontario Regional Director at the Canadian Wind Energy Association