Amazing facts about the affordability of wind energy
- Wind energy is now the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation 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 megawatt hour. Similarly, in October 2018, a competitive procurement in Saskatchewan resulted in an average bid price of $37.5 per megawatt hour, with the winning bid coming in well below that.
- A November 2017 report from the U.S. investment firm Lazard found that in the United States, wind energy is the lowest cost option for any new supply without any subsidies.
- The cost of land-based wind farms is expected to continue to fall in the future. According to a June 2016 study by the International Renewable Energy Agency, the global average cost of onshore wind could fall by 26 per cent by 2025 as technological improvements continue to be made. This offers an attractive electricity source to provinces seeking to clean and diversify their electricity systems.
- The fuel that turns the turbine blades is free; this means that once a wind farm is built, the price of electricity it produces is set and remains at that level for the entire life of the wind farm.
- Many traditional sources of energy are more likely to experience price volatility, so the long-term cost-certainty and stabilizing effect of electricity rates from wind farms provide important protection for consumers.
- The cost to build wind energy continues to decline, and significant efficiency gains are being made through ongoing evolution in wind turbine technology and operating processes.
- Wind projects have very short construction periods and can be deployed quickly with positive impacts delivered to local communities.
Wind energy is a great energy option for Canada
- Electricity prices will increase across Canada as a result of necessary investments in new electricity generation and infrastructure – the Conference Board of Canada has stated that $347 billion in investment is required between 2011 and 2030.
- New wind energy generation is cost competitive. This is even more obviously the case when all costs are considered in choosing an energy source – including impacts on the air we breathe and the water we drink.
- Wind energy is now the lowest-cost option for new electricity supply in most Canadian provinces.
- Wind energy is ideally positioned to help Canada meet its future electricity needs while tackling the global climate change challenge.
- “In 2015, renewables accounted for 66 per cent of [electricity] generation in Canada, up from 60 per cent in 2005”; “between 2010 and 2015, Canada’s installed wind capacity grew by 24 per cent per year”; and “wind energy is now among the lowest-cost options for new electricity supply in most provinces”. These are three of the key findings in a May 2017 National Energy Board report, Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources
- Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, Version 11.0, a U.S. study published in November 2017, finds that the levelized unit energy cost of wind power has declined in the U.S. by 67 percent between 2009 and 2017.
- A report by the International Energy Agency, “Medium Term Renewable Market Report” (October 2016) states that: “Led by wind and solar, renewables [in 2015] represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatts (GW), 15 per cent more than the previous year. Most of these gains were driven by record-level wind additions of 66 GW and solar PV [photovoltaic] additions of 49 GW.”
- A March 2017 report by Clean Energy Canada shows that the world’s three largest electricity markets – China, the U.S. and India – were collectively responsible for half of the 2016 global investment in clean energy, which totalled C$348 billion. China has invested over a half trillion dollars in clean energy in the last five years, India has a goal of tripling its renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022, and in the U.S. the fastest-growing occupation is now “wind turbine technician”.
- Your Home Electricity Bill: A Study on the Costs in Ontario – This study on the costs in Ontario shows that renewable energy accounts for a relatively small part of residential electricity bills. The study includes new data that calculates the role renewable energy plays in electricity bills in Ontario today, and in 2024. See also the Backgrounder: Ontario’s Electricity System.
- An editorial by Keith Brooks of Environmental Defence explains how renewable energy isn’t to blame for rising Ontario energy costs.
- A report by The Pembina Institute and Greenpeace, Renewable is Doable: Affordable and flexible options for Ontario’s long-term energy plan, shows that putting conservation first, and supplementing it with a diversified portfolio of green energy sources is a more cost-effective way to meet Ontario’s evolving energy needs.
- According to the Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2017, the levelized cost of new electricity from onshore wind will drop 47 per cent by 2040, and offshore wind will fall even faster, declining 71 per cent in the same time period.