As governments and utilities across Canada weigh the need for affordable, reliable, clean and diverse electricity supply, they are increasingly seeing wind energy as a solution.
The cost of wind energy has fallen 67 per cent in the past nine years, making it one of the lowest-cost generating technologies available today. It is a source of real, significant and sustainable greenhouse gas reductions, accelerating the shift to a low-carbon economy.
Wind energy facilities can be quickly brought on-line at a scale that matches increases in electricity demand, creating more efficient outcomes for consumers. As well, wind farms are a source of new income and jobs in the communities they’re located.
The Wind Markets pages take a detailed look at the progress that’s been made in Canada’s wind energy markets, the emerging opportunities for future growth, the costs and benefits of integrating large amounts of wind energy in the Canadian power system, and the burgeoning demand for operations and maintenance (O&M) services as the country’s wind turbine fleet expands.
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of new electricity in countries around the world, and Canada is no exception.
When the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) set a target of 10,000 MW of wind energy in Canada in 2000, there was only 137 MW of installed capacity operating across the country. In May of 2015, Canada reached that goal.
More wind energy has been built in Canada over the last five years than any other form of electricity generation, with installed capacity growing by an average of 15 per cent per year. As a result, Canada is a major player on the global scene ranking ninth in the world for total installed wind energy capacity.
Despite this progress, however, we have barely scratched the surface of our wind energy potential.
The energy sector is undergoing significant change as governments around the world pursue the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels, a transition that will only accelerate in the wake of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Canada has huge reserves of high-quality, cost-competitive wind energy resources that must be part of any credible plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Wind energy can replace fossil-fuel generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector in the short term, and also help lay a foundation for deeper cuts through electrification of other sectors of the economy.
Studies conducted in Canada and around the world have repeatedly shown the only way to get the large-scale emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is by using clean electricity to power vehicles, buildings and industry.
Canada’s electricity grid is already more than 80 per cent emissions-free, the cleanest in the G7.
By further capitalizing on our tremendous endowment of wind, hydro and solar resources, we can reliably generate 100 per cent of our electricity from zero-emission generation sources. Clean energy represents a competitive advantage for Canada, allowing us to not only meet our own environmental goals, but also export solutions to the more fossil-fuel dependent U.S. market.
With the right policies in place, Canada can lead the global shift to a low-carbon economy, and capture the tremendous opportunity for new jobs and investment that it brings.
- In 2017, CanWEA and the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) jointly commissioned a report titled The Decarbonized Electrification Pathway: Taking Stock of Canada’s Electricity Mix and Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 2030. The report is based on models that examine how likely it is that Canada will reach its target of 90 per cent of Canada’s electricity being non-emitting by 2030 given the polices currently in place at the federal and provincial levels of government. The report finds that Canada is going to fall well short of the 90 per cent by 2030 objective because a significant build out of greenhouse gas emitting natural gas-fired electricity generation is going to occur.
- In February 2017, CanWEA and the Canadian Solar Industries Association submitted recommendations regarding Environment and Climate Change Canada’s establishment of regulatory requirements for natural gas-fired electricity generation, including coal boilers converted to run on natural gas. The recommendations call on the federal government to adopt smart limits on emissions from gas-fired electricity. As Canada makes the shift to a grid that’s as clean as possible, there will be a need to limit the role of gas in Canada’s electricity system in the decades ahead. The final regulations Ottawa adopts need to send that signal. Read the March 13, 2017 joint op-ed in Policy Options magazine by CanWEA, the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) and Clean Energy Canada about making the shift to clean electricity.
- In June 2016, CanWEA and the Canadian Solar Industries Association submitted Policy Recommendations With Respect to Canada’s Approach to Climate Change to the federal government’s consultations on a greenhouse emissions reduction strategy. The recommendations include setting an economy-wide price on carbon, decarbonizing Canada’s electricity supply, encouraging renewable energy investment, increasing electrification, and implementing a renewable energy export strategy.
- Canada’s abundant renewable electricity resources offer the country a competitive advantage in global efforts to cut carbon pollution and deliver clean growth, and can power our economy as it shifts from fossil fuels to clean energy. That’s the core message in the vision laid out by the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity in Canada’s Advantage – A Vision for Renewable Electricity in Canada.
- As demand for cleaner power rises in the United States, so do electricity export opportunities for eastern Canadian suppliers. In the six New England states and New York state, Canadian generation projects have the potential to meet the demand for valuable Class I Renewable Energy Credits (REC.) To that end, CanWEA engaged Power Advisory LLC to review opportunities offered by the U.S. Northeast for Canadian wind projects in power-advisory-canwea-ne-opportunities-oct-2016
- Powering Climate Prosperity: Canada’s Renewable Electricity Advantage, a report from the Canadian Council on Renewable Energy (CanCORE), concludes that meeting Canada’s climate commitments will require us to more than double renewable electricity generation capacity and make electricity the preferred source of energy to power the economy.
- Capitalizing on Canada’s Renewable Electricity Advantage outlines CanCORE’s recommendations for a Canadian climate change strategy, including aiming for a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2050, electrifying the economy, and developing a renewable energy export strategy.
- A Canadian Opportunity: Tackling Climate Change by Switching to Clean Power, an analysis by Clean Energy Canada, describes the overarching policies needed to support electrification.
- The Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study, conducted by an expert team led by GE Energy Consulting Group, Canada can reliably and cost-effectively source more than one-third of its electricity from wind energy, and at the same time realize significant economic and environmental benefits.
- Enabling Canadian Electricity Imports for Clean Power Plan Compliance, a report co-sponsored by CanWEA, provides U.S. state policymakers with technical guidelines for using clean energy from Canada to meet their climate goals. Its recommendations include establishing a level playing field for domestic and imported resources, developing transmission links, and structuring effective competitive processes.
- Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s New Energy Outlook 2017 says renewable energy sources are set to represent almost three quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology until 2040, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including electric vehicle batteries, in balancing supply and demand. However, the report also estimates that an additional 3.9 terawatts of zero-carbon capacity will be needed in the decade to meet the target of limiting the global temperature rise this century to less than 2°C.
Canadian Council on Renewable Energy (CanCore)
Clean Energy Canada
Wind Energy Institute of Canada
Wind Energy TechnoCentre
Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)
American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
CanWEA offers additional technical information and full reports to its members. Visit the members only website and browse through CanWEA’s extensive Resource Library today. Not a member? To learn more visit CanWEA’s membership page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.