Canada dominated by just two suppliers -- Record year already

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A newly commissioned wind power project in Nova Scotia and two more that are wrapping up construction in Quebec are boosting Canada's installed capacity by 28% to just over 570 MW. All three projects utilise Vestas V80 1.8 MW wind turbines and their completion means that 2005 is already a record year for Canadian wind installations. But in a year where major turbine manufacturers are having trouble meeting demand, the country's total is expected to push even higher.

Commercial scale

Located on the southern tip of Nova Scotia, the 27 MW second phase of Atlantic Wind Power Corporation's (AWPC) 30.6 MW Pubnico Point project was completed in late February. It is the first commercial scale wind farm in the province, the largest east of Quebec and the only one in the region that is privately owned, says AWPC's Charles Demond. "By every measure we were ploughing new ground," he says. "We definitely set the bar in a good place, which I think is important." Output from the Pubnico Point plant will be sold to Nova Scotia Power under a 15 year power purchase agreement at an annual cost to the utility of around $7 million.

In Quebec, the 54 MW Mount Miller Wind Farm, developed by Montreal-based 3Ci Inc and Toronto's Northland Power, and the 45 MW second phase of the neighbouring Mount Copper project, developed by 3Ci and Toronto's Creststreet Power Holdings, were expected to come online in Murdochville, Quebec, by the end of April. Output from both is being sold to Hydro-Quebec Production.

Meantime, construction is underway on major wind farms in Saskatchewan and Manitoba -- and is expected to start later this year on projects in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. SaskPower International, the development arm of Saskatchewan's government-owned monopoly utility, is expecting to complete its 150 MW Rushlake Creek project in the province's windy southwest by the end of the year. The 83 turbine wind farm, again using Vestas 1.8 MW units, will be Canada's largest.

Vestas turbines are also going up next door in Manitoba, where the province's first wind project is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. The first phase of the St Leon wind farm, consisting of 12 Vestas NM82 1.65 MW turbines, will be commissioned by the end of May. The remaining 51 machines are to be erected later in the year.

In Alberta, Kettles Hill Wind Energy Inc plans to begin construction in July of the initial 9 MW phase of its 63 MW project near Pincher Creek. The five Vestas 1.8 MW units, which are designated as test turbines and receive special tax treatment under Canadian law, will be operating by December. The project's second phase will be constructed in 2006.

Not all Vestas

Vestas, however, does not have a complete hold on Canada's wind market for 2005. Three Enercon turbines with a combined capacity of 3.6 MW will be installed in Nova Scotia by Cape Breton Power Ltd and GE Energy recently announced it will supply 66 of its workhorse 1.5 MW turbines to the 99 MW Erie Shores Wind Farm, one of the winners in an Ontario government renewable energy request for proposals (RFP) completed late last year. Construction of the C$185 million project, to be situated along the northern shoreline of Lake Erie, is to start this fall and completed in early 2006. GE Energy will also operate and maintain the project during its first four years of operation. The project is a joint venture between AIM PowerGen Corporation and the Clean Power Income Fund, which will take a 100% share of Eries Shores when construction is completed.

New projects

Five wind projects totalling 354.6 MW of capacity were among the winners in the Ontario RFP and Eries Shores is one of three to announce plans to use GE machines. Alberta-based Canadian Hydro Developers will use 45, GE 1.5 MW units in its 67.5 MW Melancthon Grey project, located about 70 kilometres northwest of Toronto. Construction will start this year, with the project expected to be commercial operation by March 2006. Superior Wind Energy's 99 MW Prince project, located near Sault Ste Marie on a ridge running parallel to the shore of Lake Superior, will also use GE 1.5 MW machines, which the company has had reserved "for some time now," says vice-president Claude Mindorff.

A transmission line that will connect the Prince project to Ontario's power grid and a substation are to be energised in December. Mindorff says "it is possible" the company will get some turbines up and operating by the end of the year. Superior expects the Prince project to be in commercial operation by the end of March. Superior's 49.5 MW Blue Highlands Wind Farm, another RFP winner, is not scheduled to come online until 2007 and a turbine for that project has not been selected, says Mindorff.

Construction of the fifth Ontario RFP winner, EPCOR Power Development Corporation's 39.6 MW Kingsbridge Wind Power Project, located on Lake Huron, is also expected to start this year. Although the Alberta-based company has not officially announced its technology choice, the project's environmental screening report says it plans to use 22 Vestas 1.8 MW turbines.

Construction of New Brunswick's first wind farm, the 20 MW Dark Harbour project, is also scheduled to start this fall. Paul Woodhouse, president of Eastern Wind Power, says his company expected to finalise a turbine supply contract in April, although he would not reveal the manufacturer.

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