Already a record year for Canada -- Moving beyond 1000 MW

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Commissioning of new wind projects in Canada in the first months of the year has already pushed the country to a new record for annual installations and well within sight of the 1000 MW milestone for total installed capacity. Five projects with a combined capacity of nearly 260 MW and all using Vestas turbines have come online, bringing Canada's wind total to ust over 943 MW. In all of 2005, a record year, a total of 239 MW was installed.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) expects another 250 MW before the end of 2006. "It is clear that growth in Canada's wind energy production is rapid and accelerating," says president Robert Hornung. "A solid foundation is being built in 2006 that puts Canada's wind energy industry on track to meeting and exceeding current provincial government objectives." Renewable energy targets and procurement plans in place across the country are enough to push Canada's installed wind capacity to at least 8500 MW by 2015.

Unparalleled resource

Even so, says Hornung, the country has a long way to go to fully exploit what he calls Canada's unparalleled wind resource. "Even though the growth of Canada's wind energy industry is impressive, we must not lose sight of the fact that wind energy continues to develop more quickly in other countries."

New capacity so far this year is located in four provinces. In Saskatchewan, government-owned SaskPower International commissioned the final 33 Vestas 1.8 MW turbines at its Centennial Wind Power Facility in the province's southwest, completing construction of the country's largest operating wind farm. The project's first 50 turbines came online last year.

Next door in Manitoba, commissioning of the second phase of Airsource Power Fund 1's C$210 million St Leon project finished in March, adding 84.15 MW to the province's power grid. St Leon's first phase, consisting of 12 Vestas NM 1.65 MW turbines, was commissioned in 2005. The project is Manitoba's first wind farm, but the province and government-owned utility Manitoba Hydro are developing plans to add 1000 MW over the next decade. "Our efforts to make Manitoba a significant force in wind power development have only just begun," says energy minister Dave Chomiak.

Projects online

In Ontario, the 22 Vestas 1.8 MW turbines making up Epcor's C$80 million, 39.6 MW Kingsbridge I project were completed early last month. It is the second wind farm to be commissioned in Ontario this year, about a month after Canadian Hydro Developers' 67.5 MW Melancthon I Wind Plant came online. Both companies are based in Alberta and were winners in Ontario's first renewable energy request for proposals in 2004.

The fifth project is the 9 MW test phase of Alberta's Kettles Hill wind farm, commissioned in March near Pincher Creek. The five Vestas 1.8 MW wind turbines, which qualify for special tax treatment under the federal government's Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expenses program, will test the site's wind resource for 120 days before construction begins on the project's remaining 30 turbines. Power from the project is being sold into the Alberta power pool at prevailing market prices. The wind farm is being built by Kettles Hill Wind Energy, which is 83% owned by Creststreet Kettles Hill Windpower LP. The project's original developer, Benign Energy Canada, is also a shareholder.

Past 1000 MW

A sixth project, the 99 MW Erie Shores Wind Farm in Ontario, is nearing completion and will push Canada past the 1000 MW before the summer. The project's owner, the Toronto-based Clean Power Income Fund, held an official opening April 13, although the wind farm's 66 GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines had yet to be fully commissioned.

"The project is on schedule and its opening is just in time to support this summer's energy requirements," says CEO Stephen Probyn. The C$186 million project, which stretches 29 kilometres along the northern shoreline of Lake Erie, was also one of the winners in Ontario's 2004 renewable energy request for proposals.

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