Modernizing Alberta’s energy grid with wind energy benefits Albertans
Today’s wind energy is the lowest-cost source of new electricity in Alberta
In Canada, one of the first commercial wind farms was installed on Cowley Ridge in southern Alberta in 1993. Since that time wind energy has carved out an important role in the province’s electricity generation mix.
Wind energy developments are making positive and lasting social and economic contributions in communities across Alberta
Wind energy is the most affordable form of new electricity available today, and because its fuel is free, it also provides consumers with a hedge against fluctuating natural gas prices and rising carbon costs – wind farms can guarantee their low prices for 20 years or more.
As a decentralized generation source, wind energy brings new income and jobs to rural communities which provides an economic boost where it is often most welcome.
Wind energy in Alberta
Alberta now ranks third in Canada with an installed wind energy capacity of 1,483 MW. The province’s wind farms produce enough electricity each year to power about 380,000 average sized homes, equivalent to about seven per cent of Alberta’s electricity demand.
As impressive as its progress has been so far, the future for wind energy in Alberta is even brighter. The provincial government’s Climate Leadership Plan promises to phase out Alberta’s 6,300 MW of coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, and replace two-thirds of it with renewable energy. The percentage of demand met by renewable sources is expected to triple from nine per cent today to as much as 30 per cent by 2030.
Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program (REP) is expected to drive development of at least 4,500 MW of new wind energy capacity, positioning Alberta to reap significant economic and environmental benefits.
In December 2017, a competitive electricity-supply auction in Alberta, the first of many to come as part of the REP, made 2017 a record-breaking year for wind energy. It yielded the lowest-ever price paid for wind energy in Canada and made wind energy the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in the country. The auction secured 600 MW of capacity at a weighted average price of CDN$37 per megawatt-hour. A subsequent announcement of contracts for Rounds Two and Three of REP in December 2018 secured additional 763 MW, with an average weighted price of $39 per megawatt-hour. Growth in the renewable energy sector in Alberta is attracting billions of dollars in new renewable energy investment to the province.
Wind energy is a source of significant greenhouse gas reductions, it generates electricity without emitting air pollutants or toxic waste, and it uses virtually no water to produce electricity unlike conventional power plants. This makes wind energy one of the most environmentally-sustainable choices for power generation available today.
Support for wind energy in Alberta
Public opinion polling in Alberta in 2017 shows that 83 per cent of respondents believe climate change is happening and the majority believe immediate and significant action is needed. Sixty-one per cent of respondents agree that the Alberta government should encourage the development of non-emitting electricity to reduce Alberta’s carbon emissions and 60 per cent also support provincial government policy that encourages the development of wind power.
Wind by the numbers in Alberta (December 2018)
- Current number of projects: 37
- 1,483 MW installed capacity
- 901 wind turbines
- Approximately 7 per cent of electricity demand
For your convenience: a printer-friendly version of CanWEA’s Alberta Market Profile.
- The Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) Alberta Wind. For My Community. brochure shares stories of Alberta communities that are profiting from new income for rural landowners, new tax revenues, and new employment opportunities for trades people and contractors that playing host to wind energy projects provides.
- In December 2017 the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and the Government of Alberta announced record-low auction prices in the first phase of its Renewable Electricity Program (REP).
- In February 2018 the Alberta Electric System Operator and the Government of Alberta announced details about the next two renewable energy procurements in Alberta.
- 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
- $13.5 million in annual land lease payments to Alberta land owners
- The report also provides three recommendations for how Alberta can build on its strengths and realize the opportunities associated with developing its wind energy sector.
- 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.
Want to learn more? Check out blogs about wind energy in Alberta.
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