When you hear a gust of wind what do you think of?
Does it make you think of the next big storm, a power outage, or downed trees?
Or does it make you think of energy?
Wind power may be the next big thing here in Canada, with the Canadian Wind Energy Association calling the progress being made a “Canadian success story.”
LISTEN: Is wind power the future of Canadian clean energy?
“Wind energy has been the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada for the last decade. So what was a decade ago seen as a niche technology on the margins is now very much in the mainstream and is seen to be, along with natural gas, the most cost competitive form of generating new electricity in Canada today,” says CWEA President Robert Hornung.
He says wind turbines are found in every province and territory in Canada except Nunavut, producing about 12,000 megawatts of energy or six per cent of Canada’s yearly electricity demands.
Closer to home, if you look way up to Grouse Mountain you’ll see one way wind energy is working right here in Vancouver.
That’s a video for Grouse Mountain’s “Eye of the Wind” a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine that on a good day generates up to 25 per cent of the resort’s power.
But according to Hornung, wind turbines can do more than just generate power here in Canada; there’s also the possibility of sending wind energy south.
“Because Canada has a relatively clean electricity system there are not many other opportunities for decarbonization within the grid itself,” he says.
“However, if we look south of the border we see that the United States has a much heavier reliance on coal than we do in Canada. So this opportunity for wind energy is to be exported … into the United States to help the U.S. move off of coal.”
Hornung says that’s already starting to happen in the northeastern United States like Massachusetts, which is issuing a call for proposals for clean energy in a bid to get off coal and natural gas.
With the Canadian government signing on to the Paris agreement, which calls for an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050, Hornung expects to see more wind turbines in our country’s future.
“You have some provincial governments like Ontario and Quebec that have already adopted legislative targets to do the same thing. This grand electrification is going to be a critical component of Canada achieving its greenhouse gas emission targets. And there is no clean renewable form of electricity generation that is more cost effective today than wind energy.”
But don’t expect to see any large wind turbines popping up in Vancouver backyards anytime soon.
“Wind energy is a technology that is usually built in rural areas. Because rural areas generally have better wind conditions than urban areas where you have many more obstacles for example to the wind. So in rural areas you’re much more likely to get more sustained and constant winds.”