Canadian wind energy adds 1,400 MW of new capacity to provincial grids, representing C$3.5B investment in 2011; country to have 5,300 MW of capacity in place by end of 2011, with 6,000 MW projected over next five years

WINDSOR, Ontario , December 23, 2011 () – Wind energy in Canada will enjoy a record year in 2011 with about 1,400 MW of new wind energy capacity projected to be added to provincial grids, representing an investment of $3.5 billion and creating 13,500 person-years of employment.

As Canada renews its electricity generation resources, wind energy will play an ever increasing part in delivering reliable, economic and clean electricity.

Canada is now the ninth largest producer of wind energy in the world and we are poised to become a world leader in wind energy generation.

By the end of 2011 we will have more than 5,300 MW of wind energy capacity in place, enough to supply more than 1.5 million homes. Looking forward, more than 6,000 MW of wind energy projects are already contracted to be built in Canada over the next five years and several provincial governments are launching new procurement processes to obtain even more wind energy.

Ontario is the current provincial leader in installed wind energy capacity accounting for 1,755.3 MW of wind energy installations. Alberta and Quebec follow at 803 MW and 918 MW respectively. Nova Scotia and British Columbia are also seeing new developments with a total of 285.6 MW and 247.5 MW respectively now in place.

Canada's demand for electricity will grow significantly by 2025; at the same time, we will retire 15 per cent of our current generation fleet. This is a clear indication that Canada will need new sources of power to fill the gap, while also reducing impacts to our environment.

Wind energy doesn't emit smog or greenhouse gas emissions, has no toxic air or water emissions, consumes no water, and leaves no waste products.

The cost of developing wind energy is very competitive with the more traditional forms of electricity generation. Going forward, wind is likely to become one of the lowest cost options available to us. Installation costs have been declining as wind turbine supply has caught up to demand, and wind energy technology continues to improve.

Moreover, since wind is free and abundant, the cost of generating power stays relatively constant over the life of the turbine.

Wind energy is also an important opportunity for rural economic development - a new natural resource to support such communities just as farming, fisheries, forestry and other natural resource industries have historically.

Wind energy projects bring direct investment, land lease payments, new high-value jobs, and economic growth to rural areas as well as a new source of taxes for municipalities.

In fact, each 100 MW of wind energy development represents a minimum of 100 jobs, $250 million in private investment, and $300,000 in revenue to municipal governments in the form of taxes and an equal amount to rural landowners in the form of lease payments. Each 100 MW of wind energy also provides Canadians with enough clean, affordable electricity to power about 30,000 homes.

To be successful, any wind project must have broad community support and this support cannot be taken for granted - it must be earned. Consistent with its mandate to support the responsible and sustainable development of wind energy in Canada, CanWEA has developed Best Practices in Community Engagement and Public Consultation for its members.

The guidelines are designed to support wind energy project developers in continuously improving their work with local communities while ensuring that they meet and strive to exceed provincial requirements for public consultation.

CanWEA believes that wind energy can satisfy 20 per cent of Canada's electricity demand by 2025. The document Wind Vision 2025 - Powering Canada's Future is available at canwea.ca.

Robert Hornung is president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

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