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Big Production Incentive Energizes Canada's Wind Industry

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, October 20, 2004 (ENS) - Delegates to the Canadian Wind Energy Association Annual Conference and Tradeshow in Montreal this week are buzzing over the opportunities opened by the federal government, which is quadrupling the financial incentive it offers for wind power production.

The Liberal government headed by Prime Minister Paul Martin announced its new level of support for the Wind Power Production Incentive (WPPI) in its major policy speech at the opening of the legislature on October 5.

The Canadian wind power industry shifted into high gear to make use of the government's commitment to increase the original 1,000 megawatt WPPI target four-fold.

Four thousand megawatts of wind energy in Canada will generate approximately C$6 billion in investment and will create more than 40,000 direct and indirect person-years of employment,” said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). The association has long advocated expansion of the WPPI program target to 4,000 megawatts.

windfarm

The largest wind installation in Canada is the McBride Lake Windfarm, Willow Creek, Alberta. It began generating power in 2003. (Photo courtesy Willow Creek)
As of September 2004, Canada had 439 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity. One megawatt of wind power provides enough electricity to power at least 240 typical Canadian households for a year.

“By expanding the WPPI program," said Hornung, the federal government will substantially increase the economic benefits of wind energy developments to Canada by facilitating the development of a domestic market large enough to attract manufacturers of wind turbines and wind turbine components."

Most wind turbine makers today are European, with Germany and Denmark in the lead.

Hornung said the WPPI increase signals to provincial governments that Ottawa is willing to partner with them to put wind projects into motion that are now under consideration or in the early stages. That would put in place "between 4,500 and 5,000 MW of wind energy by 2012,” he said.

Provincial, corporate and projects caps under the WPPI program should be eliminated, Hornung says.

The C$260 million WPPI currently provides a payment of one cent per kilowatt hour for electricity produced from qualifying wind energy facilities for a 10 year period.

This covers about half of the current higher cost of wind energy compared to conventional sources for the first 10 years of new wind power projects, federal officials said.

The federal government has also committed to purchase 20 percent of its electricity from emerging renewable power sources by 2006.

turbines

Installing wind turbines at the first commercial windplant in Canada, the Cowley Ridge Windplant near Pincher Creek, Alberta (Photo courtesy )
Federal ministers offered additional practical support for the industry at the opening of the Montreal conference on Monday when Environment Minister Stéphane Dion and Minister of Natural Resources John Efford unveiled the "Canadian Wind Energy Atlas."

The newly completed atlas is a massive database of high resolution wind statistics for all of Canada, making Canada the first large area country in the world to have a comprehensive Wind Energy Atlas across its entire territory.

"An efficient, reliable supply of clean, renewable energy is an essential part of addressing climate change and respecting our Kyoto commitment, and in assuring a competitive economy for the future," said Dion. "The Canadian Wind Energy Atlas is an important step in that direction, and all Canadians can be extremely proud of the Canadian scientists and researchers who have developed the exciting and valuable technology that made the Atlas possible."

The Wind Atlas was created with WEST - the Wind Energy Simulation Toolkit - a sophisticated computer modeling program developed by scientists with the MSC, in partnership with their colleagues at Natural Resources Canada.

WEST allows planners of wind energy projects to look both backward and forward in time to generate a detailed picture of wind patterns - a "wind atlas" - for any location in Canada. This means wind farms can be situated with greater precision and, by reducing the need for extensive field studies to verify wind conditions in a given area, development of new projects can move much more quickly.

"There is no question wind power will be an important part of Canada's energy mix for the future, and the Government of Canada is determined to provide the conditions that will allow the industry to expand," said Efford.

As well as helping choose the best places for new wind farms, WEST also can be used to forecast wind conditions up to two weeks in advance, with an estimation of the prediction's uncertainty. This will allow electricity generators to predict when auxiliary power sources may need to be brought on-line to supplement the wind generation system.

Canada has plenty of wind power potential. The province of Quebec has 100,000 megawatts of potential wind energy potential within 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) of existing transmission lines that is economically viable in the short and medium term, according to a study released in April by wind energy consulting firm Helimax Energy. If only 10 percent of this potential was captured, wind energy would account for more than 15 percent of Quebec’s total electricity production.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association is found at: http://www.canwea.ca

View the Canadian Wind Energy Atlas at: http://www.windatlas.ca/en/index.php



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