After a slow start, Canada is now ramping up its renewable energy and energy-efficiency developments with increasing conviction. Led by a number of progressive companies and schools, and some select government actions, 2008 looks to be a stellar year to join this industry north of the 49th parallel.
BC’s first wind farms are now in the early stages of construction in the province’s Peace River region, as well as on the North Coast, for a total of about 270 megawatts (MW). Run-of-River hydro systems are being built in various areas. In the emerging tidal and wave energy sector, a significant number of companies are based in BC, and hope to implement projects on its varied coastline over the next couple of years. Two solar-electric manufacturers call the province home, in Vancouver and Victoria.
BC government has recently enacted bold greenhouse-gas reduction targets, which should continue to stimulate the market for renewable sources of energy. BC Hydro is issuing a “Clean Power Call” early in 2008. New clean energy training programs are being introduced at three different colleges almost simultaneously (Selkirk, Malaspina, and Northern Lights).
Alberta, the number one oil-and-gas province, is also home to Canada’s first wind turbines (installed in 1993, according to www.CanWEA.ca). Several months ago the government lifted a 900-MW cap on wind power, confident that large amounts of wind energy could be safely and fairly introduced to the grid. Current plans envision 5,000 additional megawatts. And the oil-and-gas sector, culpable for its greenhouse gas intensity, is also one of the country’s biggest users of photovoltaic solar power systems.
In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, installed wind power capacity has continued steady growth, most notably a 150-MW farm built in Saskatchewan in February 2006. Saskatchewan has introduced a 25% rebate for businesses and institutions ready to install solar-hot-water systems on their facilities. Manitoba issued a call for an additional 300 MW of wind energy in 2007, and has stated it would like 1000 MW by 2017.
Canada’s largest province has introduced a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) for renewable energy, called the Standard Offer Program, with help from the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.
The program, which pays reasonably high rates for small to medium-sized amounts of renewable energy, offers 20 year contracts. Through 2007, about 230 projects had been interconnected through the program. In September the province also announced a $3 million “community power fund” to help establish community-owned renewable energy projects. A market transformation initiative to assist the uptake of solar energy by the public in Ontario is also underway.
Training continues to be added to the province’s schools, like at Humber College. Ontario already hosts most of the countries renewable energy college courses.
Wind capacity to date is at almost 450 MW, but when all contracted projects currently under development are weighed in, Ontario stands to build 1,260 MW of wind power over the next two years.
Canada’s belle province has also shown leadership in their adoption of renewable energy sources, and by embracing the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol.
A wide range of energy-efficiency rebates and measures are available to its citizens and businesses.
Manufacturing of wind turbine components is taking place in Quebec, as well as the installation of over 400 MW of wind energy to date, mostly along the shores of the Gaspe Peninsula. In May 2006, the government announced intentions of adding as much as 4,000 MW of wind power to the energy mix, pending transmission upgrades.
New Brunswick, along with BC, is one of the last provinces in Canada to build wind power units. However, several sites are now under construction for 2008, for a total of about 96 MW of power capacity.
Nova Scotia has about 60 MW of wind installed to date. There are also some rebates available for solar hot water installations.
Tiny Prince Edward Island has been pro-active in obtaining wind energy for its grid, and currently has 73 MW in place.
Currently there is little wind energy installed in the Yukon or NorthWest Territories, due in part to its small population. However, there is widespread reliance on diesel generators for power, something that could be offset with solar/wind and diesel hybrid technology. The current Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic, Dennis Bevington, is a strong supporter of renewable energy, and hopefully progress will be made in this area in 2008.
The Federal Government’s efforts on the Climate Change file have in many cases been less than admirable, and they have attracted worldwide criticism for complicating recent negotiations in Bali. The ‘ecoENERGY‘ suite of programs and funding recently introduced does however carry positive strengths.
Organizations, businesses and individuals need to apply for all incentives offered both provincially and federally to help ensure that the governments are held accountable to their commitments, and we can all do our part to support the growth of sustainable energy industries in Canada.
Randyn Seibold is a student, freelance writer and renewable energy entrepreneur. Living on British Columbia’s West Coast for the last 15 years, he is an active member of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and has worked for four years as an electrical apprentice. Renewable Recruits is a proprietorship focused on informing students about renewable energy training opportunities, and recruiting qualified people to RE developments in Western Canada.