While a political battle rages over whether Ontario’s Great Lakes wind scheme will go ahead, there’s no doubt that the Canadian state leads the way in wind generation, with more than 2,600 MW of capacity expected to be in service by the end of 2011. And while this is impressive, the fact is that more farms need to be built in Ontario – offshore, preferably. Why? The economic and employment impacts are two compelling reasons in their own right. PES investigates.
The state of Ontario has made a long-standing commitment to renewable electricity. Part of this commitment is reducing the energy generated from coal-fired power to zero as soon as possible. Through a range of initiatives, including the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program, Ontario has added more than 1,200MW of renewable generation capacity since 2003, an investment of $4bn. The most recent and ambitious initiative is the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009. This legislation created the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program, which offers long-term contracts at predetermined prices for renewable electricity generated from qualifying projects.
The Great Lakes represent a high-quality wind resource that is available to both Canada and the US. Offshore wind farms represent a potential emerging industry for Ontario and the strong government commitment through the FiT program has generated interest on the part of project developers, equipment suppliers, and support companies around the world as well as making Ontario a priority market for many companies. Offshore wind has location advantages in that it does not require agricultural land and generates more power per farm surface area than onshore wind. Although the resource potential of offshore wind in Ontario alone has been estimated at 35,000MW, there are currently no offshore wind farms in operation or under construction in North America. In Ontario, several large-scale potential projects are under development, making the province a leader in offshore wind in this continent.