Canada's wind power surges
Based on the latest data issued by the Global Wind Energy Council, Canada installed 776 MW of wind power capacity in 2006. Only six countries installed more: the United States (2,454 MW), Germany (2,233 MW), India (1,840 MW), Spain (1,587 MW), China (1,347 MW), and France (810 MW).
Worldwide, capacity of wind energy increased by a record 15,197 MW in 2006 (32%), bringing total wind energy capacity to 74,223 MW – enough to power around 22.5 million homes.
Canada now ranks twelfth among countries for installed wind power capacity. The leaders are long-time renewables supporters Germany, with 20,622 MW installed, and Spain, with 11,615 MW, followed by rising powerhouses the United States (11,603 MW) and India (6,270 MW).
A combination of federal and provincial support systems and the increasingly viable economics of wind power have led to a jump in capacity in Canada in recent years. Provincial governments are currently seeking to put in place a minimum of 10,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity by 2015. During that time, GWEC projects that installed wind energy capacity globally will increase to 171,000 MW.
The federal government’s recently announced $1.48 billion ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program will provide a payment of one cent per kilowatt hour to producers of renewable energy for the first ten years of a project. A discussion paper released to stakeholders to help develop program specifics outlined that funding would be set aside for 3,000 MW of wind power, and 1,000 MW of other renewables.
Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA, says “Nonetheless wind energy continues to grow more quickly in many other countries and we are still far from tapping the full economic and environmental potential of wind energy in Canada”.
CanWEA estimates that wind energy reduced global greenhouse gas emissions by 90 Megatonnes (Mt) in 2006. In Canada, it is estimated that every 1,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity will reduce annual emissions of carbon dioxide by a minimum of 1.2 Mt.
The total value of new wind energy generating equipment installed globally in 2006 was US$ 23 billion and it is estimated that some 163,000 people are now directly employed by the wind energy industry worldwide.
According to CanWEA estimates, Canada’s wind energy industry contributed $736 million to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2005. That same year, there were 1,200 full-time equivalent jobs (FTE) in the wind energy industry, an increase of 65% over 2004.