Canada hits three gigawatt milestone

North America: Three new wind power projects coming online in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have pushed Canada's total installed wind capacity past the 3 GW mark and have helped the country break a record for annual installations.

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The commissioning of the 102 MW Bear Mountain Wind Park in north-eastern British Columbia was a milestone in itself. The C$200 million project, made up of 34 Enercon 3 MW turbines, is the first operating wind farm in Canada's westernmost province. Wind energy is now being generated in every Canadian province. The project is also the first foray into wind for its owner, Calgary's Altagas Income Trust, which completed construction on budget and ahead of schedule. Its success "demonstrates our strategy of investing in and building projects that are long-term, stable assets", says CEO David Cornhill.

TransAlta Corporation's 66 MW Blue Trail wind farm in southern Alberta started commercial operations in early November, more than a month ahead of schedule. The C$115 million project, made up of 22 Vestas 3 MW turbines, will generate an average of 195 GWh a year of electricity, enough to meet the needs of 29,000 homes.

Blue Trail's commissioning increases TransAlta's wind turbine fleet to 899 MW. The Calgary-based company is by far the largest wind power producer in the country, thanks to its recent takeover of renewable energy firm Canadian Hydro Developers.

Toronto's Northland Power Income Fund completed its 127.5 MW Jardin d'eole wind farm in Quebec in November as well. CEO John Brace says the project was well within its C$268 million total budget. But it also had its share of challenges along the way. Northland won a 20-year power purchase agreement for the wind farm, originally planned for 150 MW, in Hydro-Quebec's 2003 request for proposals. It was to have come online by December 2007, but ran into delays over permitting and turbine supply (Windpower Monthly, November 2008).

With the completion of Bear Mountain, Blue Trail and Jardin d'eole, Canada's installed wind capacity stands at 3.15 GW. Of that, 781 MW has come online in 2009, narrowly edging out the record 775 MW installed in 2006.

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