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
Interest in wind energy is growing in Alberta, providing the most cost-competitive source of new electricity generation to power communities and commerce.
Growth of wind energy in Alberta
Alberta now ranks third in Canada with an installed wind energy capacity of 1,685 MW.
Wind energy helps to diversify both Alberta’s electricity generation mix and its energy economy.
The electricity produced by the province’s windfarms is equivalent to the amount needed to power approximately 431,862 average-sized homes.
The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) recently assessed the impact of adding more renewable generation to provincial supply. It determined that variable sources could meet 30 per cent of provincial electricity demand by 2030 with no requirement for additional back-up or storage. At this level of wind energy deployment, the diversification of electricity supply is expected to drive $8.3 billion of investment in the province, and a range of more specific benefits, according to a 2017 Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study.
Lowest cost option for new electricity in Canada
In December 2017, a competitive electricity-supply auction in Alberta yielded the lowest-ever rate paid for wind energy in the country, a weighted average of $37 per MWh. Furthermore, with wind energy costs falling so steeply, some new wind energy facilities in Canada have already surpassed yet another milestone – they have begun to produce power even more cost-effectively than many existing generating facilities.
As with many other renewable energy technologies, there are no fuel costs for wind energy which means stable pricing over the long-term.
Alberta’s energy resources drive the provincial economy, and the energy sector is well-positioned to grow further and diversify. Alongside continued development of its oil and gas resources, Alberta is increasingly proving its leadership in renewable energy development – most notably of its high-quality wind resources.
Support for wind energy in Alberta
Public opinion polling in Alberta shows that 74 per cent of Albertans think that the Provincial Government should be taking steps to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources (ThinkHQ, March 2019).
Wind by the numbers in Alberta (December 2019)
- Current number of projects: 38
- 1,685 MW installed capacity
- 957 wind turbines
For your convenience: a printer-friendly version of CanWEA’s Alberta Market Profile.
- According to the Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study, if Alberta were to move to 30 per cent renewable electricity – with wind providing the large bulk of the new green generation – it could result in significant economic benefits, including :
- An estimated $8.3 billion of investment in the province
- 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 70 per cent between 2009 and 2019.
- 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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