Canada ranks 10th in wind energy capacity with 14.4 Gigawatt producing 36.19 Terawatt-hours of electricity, accounting for 6.2 % of total consumption. This article will discuss wind energy in Canada and investigate the ambitions, strategies, and new and upcoming onshore wind power plants. It will also shed light on the key players and the challenges plaguing the wind energy sector. Wind energy will be crucial in Canada’s quest to reach net zero by 2050.
Ambition & Strategy:
In April 2021, the Canadian government committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In line with the goal, in June 2021, the Government of Canada announced the 965 million CAD Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program supporting established renewables, emerging technologies and grid modernisation.
New & Upcoming Onshore Wind Power Plants:
- Nation Rise Wind Farm is in Ontario, owned by Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and EDP Renovaveis and developed by EDP Renewables Canada. Construction began in 2019, and operations started in June 2021 with a 99.76-megawatt capacity.
- The Sharp Hills Onshore Wind Project, located in Alberta, is owned by EDP Renewables Canada. The development of the project is a collaborative effort involving Alberta Wind Energy, EDP Renewables Canada, and Eolectric. Built with a total investment of $420 million, it achieved commissioning in April 2023, showcasing an impressive capacity of 298.2 megawatts.
- Wild Rose Onshore Wind Farm, located in Alberta, is owned by Wild Rose 2 Wind. Naturener Wild Rose 2 Energy and Wild Rose 2 Wind is developing the project. It is slated for commissioning in 2023, boasting an impressive capacity of 192 megawatts.
- Red Rock Onshore Wind Farm, located in Alberta, is owned and developed by EDP Renewables Canada. Currently, in the permitting stage, this project is anticipated to be developed in a single phase and is projected to become operational in 2025 with a capacity of 165.6 megawatts.
- Buffalo Plains Wind Farm, located in Alberta, is owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners KS. It is under development by ABO Wind and Rocky Mountain Power. Currently, in the permitting stage, this project is anticipated to be developed in a single phase and is projected to become operational in 2024 with an impressive capacity of 494 megawatts.
- Wind-Do Energy Inc., headquartered in Montreal, founded in 2017. They develop mid-scale wind turbines, particularly for areas where giant turbines are impractical due to challenging terrain and noise-related concerns.
- Aurea Technologies Inc., headquartered in Halifax, was founded in 2017. The company has developed lightweight, compact, deployable wind turbines to create more energy in less time due to the high-power potential of wind.
- Greengate Power Corporation, headquartered in Calgary, was founded in 2007. They are developing utility-scale wind energy projects and are venturing into solar energy.
- BluEarth Renewables, headquartered in Calgary, was founded in 2010. They are an independent power producer working with wind, hydroelectric and solar power projects.
- Revolve, headquartered in Vancouver, was founded in 2012. They are involved in developing wind and solar energy projects and battery technologies across the North American continent.
- The primary challenge stems from the inherent intermittency of wind energy, relying on the availability of wind. This intermittent nature can present difficulties for grid operators in ensuring a consistent and stable power supply.
- The second concern revolves around the cost dynamics of wind energy production. While generating electricity from wind is more cost-effective than fossil fuels, the substantial upfront costs deter widespread, large-scale deployment.
- The third hindrance is that the permitting process for wind projects can be lengthy and complex, involving multiple levels of government and stakeholders. It is tough to balance environmental considerations, community concerns, and the need for renewable energy.
Canada, ranking 10th globally in wind energy, embarks on a resolute journey toward sustainability. Government commitments echo in the Smart Renewables Program, a $965 million investment, new wind power plants, from the operational Nation Rise to the forthcoming Buffalo Plains, illuminate the path to net-zero 2050. Innovative companies—Wind-Do Energy, Aurea Technologies, Greengate Power, BluEarth Renewables, and Revolve—underscore Canada’s diverse wind energy landscape. Challenges of intermittency, upfront costs, and complex permitting processes are acknowledged. Yet, within these hurdles lie opportunities for innovation. As Canada steers its wind-powered course, these challenges become catalysts for a resilient, green future.