Canada’s wind energy industry holds its Spring Forum in Banff as wind energy growth sweeps across the Prairie Provinces
April 18, 2019
The implications of the Alberta election, the de-carbonizing of electricity grids, disruptive and smarter technologies, and Indigenous engagement among the key topics explored at the Forum
Over the course of a two-day CanWEA Spring Forum in Banff, Alberta, many of Canada’s wind energy leaders shared a sense of optimism about the growth of wind energy in Canada, and the economic and environmental benefits it is delivering as the lowest-price, emissions-free source of new electricity for not only Alberta and Saskatchewan, but for other provinces across Canada. They also discussed the implications of the Alberta election and subjects such as Indigenous engagement, recent developments in Canada’s wind markets, new technologies, and the evolution of government electricity and climate policies.
A day-one highlight was a wide-ranging keynote address by Peter Tertzakian, Executive Director of the ARC Energy Research Institute in Calgary, who described the new energy revolution driven by competition, innovation, supply additions and lower prices. The Forum concluded today with Chris Turner, a prominent author and journalist, who provided his insights on the challenges the wind energy industry must address if it is to capitalize on the potential clean energy development opportunities offered by the Alberta electricity system.
The Spring Forum attracted more than 170 attendees and a sold-out exhibitor space to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel for the April 17-18 conference.
Much of the focus of Canada’s wind energy industry is now on Alberta and Saskatchewan, where it is poised to grow rapidly in the next few years. Wind energy has proven attractive to the prairie provinces because it has become the low-price leader, and because it helps to de-carbonize the electricity grid. In competitive electricity-supply auctions in Alberta in 2017 and 2018, the auctions secured 1,363 megawatts of wind energy at average weighted prices of $37 to $39 per megawatt-hour. Saskatchewan’s most recent procurement attracted widespread interest from the wind energy industry, with the winning bid coming in below $35 per megawatt hour. These recent prices were new lows for wind energy in Canada and make wind energy the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in the country.
Auction results such as these explain the wind energy industry’s optimism at the Spring Forum, not only for the prairie provinces, but for all of Canada’s provinces as they strive to deliver affordable, emissions-free, reliable and safe electricity to the benefit of all Canadians.
The Spring Forum began just as the Alberta election results were announced, revealing a victory by the United Conservative Party. Forum speakers emphasized that the wind energy industry expects to work closely with the new government and the electricity system operator to continue to build the new wind energy projects that will deliver low-priced power, keeping electricity affordable for Albertans. New wind energy projects will also help to diversify the economy through the investment of billions of dollars, while creating thousands of jobs that benefit Alberta’s economy and its host communities.
“The four key attributes of wind energy – low price, emission-free, reliable and flexible – underpin my optimism that wind energy can compete with, and win against, every other large-scale electricity option to meet Canada’s future needs. We are the lowest-cost provider; we generate emission-free power; our product is increasingly contributing to the reliability of the grid; and we offer a flexible and scalable solution to system operators as well as decentralized grids.”
– Robert Hornung, President, Canadian Wind Energy Association
“Prices for wind, solar, energy storage, and fossil fuel extraction have come down rapidly. Alberta, with an abundance of energy sources – both renewable and non-renewable – is well-positioned to lead as an energy powerhouse in Canada.”
– Peter Tertzakian, Executive Director, the ARC Energy Research Institute
“Alberta is a proud leader in all forms of energy, with some of the best wind resources found in Canada, a skilled workforce, excellent training capacities, and a desire to diversify the economy and add jobs. More wind energy will not only keep electricity affordable, but will result in increased revenues for local municipalities, supplemental income for landowners and increased spending in host communities.”
– Evan Wilson, Regional Director – Prairies, Canadian Wind Energy Association
“Many of Alberta’s Indigenous communities are focused on opportunities to actively participate in the growing clean energy development occurring in their Traditional Territory and to creating opportunity on Reserve and on Settlement lands. We look forward to sharing our experiences to date at the Spring Forum and to forging new relationships with industry experts who are like minded.”
– Chantelle Cardinal, Director of Business Development & Environment, G4- Stoney Nakoda-Tsuut’ina Tribal Council
“There is a global energy transition underway, and Canada has a huge opportunity to join the front ranks of this vital project. We have extraordinary renewable energy resources, conventional energy resources, and a really strong tech sector – all the tools we need to become global leaders.”
– Chris Turner, Author and Journalist
- Low-cost wind energy creates significant economic benefits for both Alberta and Saskatchewan and for communities across Canada that host wind energy projects.
- The Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study provides an analysis of the economic opportunities driven by Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program including:
- An estimated $3.6 billion in local spending on project development and construction,
- An estimated $137 million in annual operations and maintenance spending in Alberta,
- 28,100 person-years of direct, indirect and induced employment,
- $25.5 million in annual property taxes, and
- $13.5 million in annual land lease payments to Alberta land owners.
- Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis found that the levelized unit energy cost of wind power declined in the United States by 69 percent between 2009 and 2018.
- Wind energy prices continue to decline as the technology continues to improve, lowering the cost of wind turbines while at the same time increasing performance. Today wind turbines are more cost-effective and reliable than ever.
- According to the Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2017, the levelized cost of new electricity from onshore wind will drop 47 per cent by 2040, and offshore wind will fall even faster, declining 71 per cent in the same time period.
About the Canadian Wind Energy Association
CanWEA is the voice of Canada’s wind energy industry, actively promoting the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy. A national non-profit association, CanWEA serves as Canada’s leading source of credible information about wind energy and its social, economic and environmental benefits. Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more at canwea.ca.
For more information or for interview opportunities, please contact:
Anastasia Smolentseva, Communications Advisor
Canadian Wind Energy Association