Farmers key in expansion of wind energy in Canada

May 02, 2012
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A wind farm in Spain (credit: Jesus Martinez))
A wind farm in Spain (credit: Jesus Martinez))
Wind energy raises hackles with some rural Canadians and farm organizations concerned about health and the environment, but there's no question it's becoming entrenched as a source of green energy. The Canadian Wind Energy Association, or CanWEA, says Canada is on track for another record year for wind energy development in 2012.

Rural Ontario will lead the way for new installations, it says, and farmers will continue their pivotal role as land-lease holders in the wind energy system. Last week, CanWEA predicted approximately 1,500 megawatts of new installed capacity will be added this year.

The country is sixth in the world for new installed wind energy capacity, and now has 5,403 megawatts of total wind power, enough to service more than 1.2 million homes. "Canada, and in particular Ontario, has emerged as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally," says Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. "This industry represents billions of dollars in new investments across the manufacturing and construction sectors."

Canada's wind energy industry realized a record year in 2011 with about 1,267 megawatts of new wind energy capacity, representing an investment of $3.1 billion and creating 13,000 person-years of employment.

CanWEA says Ontario leads Canada in installed wind energy capacity, accounting for 1,970 megawatts of wind energy installations. Quebec, with just over 1,000 megawatts, and Alberta with 891 megawatts, follow. Nova Scotia and British Columbia are also seeing new developments with a total of 286 megawatts and 248 megawatts respectively now in place.

Farmers, says the organization, "play the most vital role in Ontario's endeavor to create a cleaner, more modern electricity system." It points to the wind energy benefits farmers derive through land-lease arrangements, with Ontario landowners alone on track to earn more than $1.1 billion in payments over the 20-year lifespan of wind projects to be contracted between now and 2018.

By Owen Roberts

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