Wind Energy: British Columbia’s Low-Cost Clean and Renewable Choice
British Columbia’s first wind farm began commercial operations in November 2009. At the end of 2019, the province had 713 MW of installed wind energy capacity.
The potential for B.C. to continue to take advantage of its abundant, world-class wind resource is strong. Analyses presented to the B.C. Utilities Commission’s 2017 review of the Site C hydroelectric project clearly show that wind energy is cost-competitive with new hydro generation now, and that its costs are expected to keep falling into the future.
Wind energy also provides additional value to the province. As a major electricity exporter, BC Hydro has an opportunity to bundle wind and hydro to deliver a product that meets green energy requirements of states in the western U.S. and earn additional revenue by accessing renewable energy credits not available to large hydro alone.
Wind projects can be deployed quickly and at a scale that matches load growth, creating less risk for ratepayers. Tax and royalty payments made by independent power producers currently total $244 million a year, a figure that will grow as new projects are brought on line. The distributed nature of renewable energy projects also produces local economic development benefits, including opportunities for British Columbia’s 203 First Nations.
Over the long term, increased supplies of new zero-emission energy will be key to realizing the province’s aggressive climate change goals. B.C. is targeting greenhouse gas reductions of at least 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050, a goal that can only be met through the long-term electrification of the economy. Wind energy is well-positioned to provide the reliable, low-cost, emissions-free electricity that will drive that transition.
By strategically exploiting huge reserves of renewable energy resources, the province can build a more resilient, geographically diverse, and affordable power system that will benefit B.C. families and businesses for generations to come.
Wind by the numbers in BC (December 2019)
- 713 MW installed capacity
- 292 wind turbines
- CanWEA and the Clean Energy Association of B.C (CEABC) teamed up in 2017 to provide input into the B.C Utility Commission’s Site C Inquiry. They commissioned Power Advisory LLC to conduct an independent analysis of the costs and benefits of wind, solar, small hydro and battery storage in the province, as well as the relative benefits and risks of these technologies compared to Site C. The analysis found wind energy is a cost-competitive alternative to large hydro development, and has additional benefits that lead to better outcomes for ratepayers.
- A survey of B.C. First Nations found that 98 per cent want to see more opportunity to develop clean energy projects in the province. Of the 105 that responded, nearly half are involved in the clean energy sector in some way, and 61 per cent said the biggest barrier they face is the lack of opportunity to sell power to B.C. Hydro.
- Wind energy is powering B.C. with emissions-free electricity while creating jobs, delivering local economic benefits and providing opportunities for First Nations. The Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) B.C. For My Community brochure shares some of the province’s success stories.
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