New wind energy washes over Canada in 2015

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) says that Canada closed 2015 at a position of seventh in the world for total installed wind energy capacity with 11,205 MW, and sixth in the world for the amount of capacity added in 2015.

Over the course of last year, Canada added 1,506 MW of new wind capacity through the commissioning of 36 projects, 23 of which involved Aboriginal Peoples, municipal or local ownership. Wind energy supplied about 5% of Canada’s electricity demand in 2015.

“Not only has the wind energy industry continued its five year trend as the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada,” said CanWEA president Robert Hornung on Jan. 12, “the industry in Canada has demonstrated a five year annual average growth rate of 23 per cent per year (an average of 1,438 MW per year).”

  • Ontario, which a couple of years ago shut down the last of its coal-fired capacity, continued to lead the way in market size and growth, adding 871 MW of installed capacity in 2015 for a new total of 4,361 MW. Between contracts signed and planned new purchases through the province’s new Large Renewable Procurement process, there remains more than 2,000 MW of wind slated to be built in Ontario in the next few years.
  • Quebec, Canada’s second largest wind energy market, was also the second largest contributor of new installed capacity in 2015, adding 397 MW for a total of 3,262 MW. This included the largest multi-phase project commissioned in Canada to date – the 350-MW wind farm in Riviere du Moulin. The first phase of 150 MW was commissioned in 2014 and the remaining 200 MW was commissioned in 2015. The province has another 700 MW due to come online in the next two years.
  • Nova Scotia, which currently has 552 MW, commissioned 186 MW in 2015, including one of the largest municipal-owned wind projects in Canada (Sable Wind Farm, 14 MW), bringing the total installed capacity in Atlantic Canada to 1,104 MW (New Brunswick 294 MW, Prince Edward Island 204 MW, Newfoundland 55 MW). Notably, Prince Edward Island currently gets about 40% of its electricity supply from wind energy and Nova Scotia gets close to 10% from wind energy.
  • Alberta, which is Canada’s third largest wind energy market at 1,500 MW, added 29 MW in 2015. More remarkable, the wind association noted, was the commitment in November by the province to replace two-thirds of coal generation with renewable generation, which is expected to increase installed wind energy capacity in Alberta by thousands of megawatts over the next 15 years.
  • Similarly, in November, Saskatchewan, which added 23 MW of installed wind energy capacity in 2015, committed to significantly grow this capacity from 221 MW presently to more than 2,000 MW by 2030, starting with an initial procurement of new wind energy capacity in 2016.
  • British Columbia held steady in 2015 at 489 MW of installed wind energy capacity, as did Manitoba with 258 MW, the Northwest Territories at 9 MW, and Yukon with just under 1 MW.

Six wind turbine manufacturers (OEMs), all CanWEA members, supplied the technology for the new wind capacity commissioned in 2015 in Canada. Siemens Canada Ltd. led installations with close to 50%, followed by Senvion Canada Inc., GE Renewable Energy, ENERCON, Acciona Wind Energy Canada and Vestas Canada.

With the cost of utility-scale wind plummeting 60% over the past six years, as reported in November by U.S. investment bank Lazard, wind energy is now cost-competitive with virtually every other potential source of new electricity generation, the association noted. That downward trajectory is expected to continue, while the costs of wind energy’s main competitor, natural gas, are exposed to both future carbon and commodity price risk.

“As we look ahead in Canada, we expect at least another 1,000 MW to be installed by the end of 2016,” said Hornung. “The recent policy decisions in Alberta and Saskatchewan provide clear evidence that wind energy’s growth prospects will remain strong beyond then as well.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.