Submitted by OCAA on Tue, 07/03/2007 - 23:30.
The provincial government can do more to promote wind energy as part of the solution to Ontario's energy crunch.
That's the message wind industry stakeholders shared with media during a recent tour of southwestern Ontario promoting the renewable energy resource.
During a stop at The Expositor, David Timm, Ontario policy manager with the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Mike Crawley, president and CEO of AIM PowerGen Corporation and Ron Collins, manager of business development with Enbridge Inc., said the province needs to develop a "stable and sustainable" policy framework if wind power is to be a bigger part of Ontario's electricity generating capacity.
That includes developing new wind power projects, offering tax incentives for investment in wind energy, making it easier to get permits for wind developments and creating a clear process by which the merits of projects are judged.
"The government has made some headway over the past few years," Crawley said. "But our position is that there's work to be done to refine the process."
In 2004, the province set a target to produce five per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by this year and 10 per cent by 2010.
"They have set ambitious targets," Timm said. "The issue is what is the mechanism to reach those targets?"
Ontario's wind energy production has increased dramatically during the past three years. In 2005, 14.5 megawatts of wind power was generated in the province. That number increased to 415 megawatts by 2007.
It's still a small percentage of Ontario's total generating capacity of 31,200 megawatts. The biggest chunk of the province's power, 11,414 megawatts, comes from nuclear generation. Hydroelectric generation accounts for 7,768 megawatts, coal, 6,434 megawatts, natural gas and oil, 5,103 megawatts, with wind and biomass generation making up the rest.
By 2008, the province hopes to generate just under 1,300 megawatts of power using wind, said Ministry of Energy spokesperson Sylvia Kovesfalvi.
"The Ontario government has chosen to take a leading role in encouraging the development of renewable energy," Kovesfalvi said during a telephone interview. "These projects are imperative in helping our province reduce our CO2 emissions, meet our provincial and national climate change targets and help create a greener, more balanced energy system.
"We expect much of the growth in renewable energy will come from wind."
Ontario's recent increase in wind power generation is due to the province issuing requests for proposals for new wind power developments, which began in 2004. That year, Ontario issued a request for proposals that would in total generate 400 megawatts of wind power. In 2005, the province issued a second request for proposals, this time for 1,000 megawatts. Another request for proposals is expected in 2008.
In 2006, the province also introduced its "standard offer program," for renewable energy projects of 10 megawatts or less.
"With the program, a number of new developers are arising," Timm said.
The provincial Liberal government recently promised to close all of Ontario's coal- fired electricity generating stations by 2014, a new target after an earlier pledge to close the plants by 2007 was not met.
Collins said wind power won't provide all of the electricity Ontario will need once its coal plants close, but will help offset the loss of generating capacity.
"I wouldn't anticipate closing a coal-fired plant through using wind," he said. "It has to be a resource mix."
Collins's company, Enbridge, is developing wind power projects in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, including a 181-megawatt, $400-million project in Kincardine.
"Our projects are long-term projects," Collins said. "We're also looking at expanding in those areas."
Crawley's company, AIM PowerGen, constructed the 66-turbine, 99-megawatt Erie Shores wind farm along the shores of Lake Erie, partially located in Norfolk County. The company is also developing four smaller projects that will generate a total of 40 megawatts of power.
Crawley said southern Ontario has great potential for an increase in wind power production.
"In southern Ontario, it's almost like a sweet spot because there are so many overlapping benefits," Crawley said. "And the neat thing about Ontario is that the wind power is so close to (where electricity is needed)."
Crawley and Collins said developing wind power isn't only good for the environment, it's good for the economy. They said each megawatt of wind power produced in Ontario represents an investment of more than $2 million, creates employment opportunities and generates a new tax base for municipalities.
Both AIM and Enbridge are members of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which represents more than 300 corporate members from across the wind energy sector and serves as an advocacy group for wind energy development.
Timm said the organization sees wind power as an important part of addressing Canada's future energy needs, as well as meeting its commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses. A clean form of energy, wind energy produces no air pollution, water pollution or greenhouse gases.
"It provides a tremendous opportunity for Canada to meet its emissions targets," Timm said. "We're just starting to tap into wind resources in this country."
Currently, just .5 per cent of electricity generated in Canada comes from wind turbines, well behind countries that have embraced the technology. About 20 per cent of Denmark's total electricity production comes from wind. In Germany, that number stands at six per cent.