Why is the wind energy potential of the Prairies so small (windatlas.ca/en/maps.php) while the corresponding US Great Plains region is so high?
It looks like the Wind Atlas website is currently unavailable and may be undergoing an update. Previously, it had not been updated in some time and, as such, may not have accurately reflected the current wind energy potential of various regions. Further, the site looked at wind energy potential at magnifications no smaller than 15km by 15km. The Ontario Renewable Energy Atlas, which was developed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, uses much smaller grids and is subsequently more accurate, but only covers Ontario.
We know that Canada’s Prairies have some of the best wind resources in North America; however, wind energy potential does not refer solely to the availability of a strong wind resource. Government policies are a factor in a region’s wind energy potential and fortunately new announcements made late in 2015, in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, have made it clear that significant new wind energy opportunities are emerging in Canada’s prairie provinces.
While the wind industry is growing rapidly in Canada and around the world, we are still only scratching the surface of our wind energy potential. The growth of this clean energy source will depend on the federal and provincial governments to establish policies and programs to achieve this goal.
If you would like to know more about wind energy in Canada, visit Wind Works.
(Question answered December 2015)