CALGARY—Alberta has a vast amount of wind energy potential that will remain untapped unless the province implements policies to level the economic playing field between wind energy producers and other power generation sources, like natural gas, according to a new report from the Canadian Wind Energy Association (Canwea).
In Windvision 2025: A Strategy for Alberta, Canwea suggests setting a ‘Clean Energy Standard’ that puts a cap on the allowable amount of emissions from the province’s energy producers are. It also recommends increasing the $15-per-tonne carbon tax imposed on heavy emitters.
“Neither of these policy measures alone will totally address the challenges facing wind energy in the province, but they are very complementary,” said Robert Hornung, president of Canwea.
“A Clean Electricity Standard will incent long-term contracts for electricity and help provide the long-term revenue certainly needed to finance new projects. An uplift in the carbon price will increase the value of greenhouse gas offsets produced by wind energy projects, providing an additional revenue stream that will improve project economics.”
Canwea estimates the province has about 5,000 megawatts (MW) of easily accessible wind resources. In 2012, wind energy accounted for 3.4 per cent of the province’s energy supply. According to the report, every 150-MW wind farm would:
– reduce Alberta’s GHG emissions by 300,000 tonnes a year;
– represent $316 million in investment
– create 140 full-time equivalent construction jobs and 10 permanent jobs in operations and management
– provide $17 million in lease payments to landowners over 20 years
– generate $31 million of property tax revenue for municipalities
The province’s oil and gas industry could stand to benefit from wind energy as well by using wind as a clean source of power for their operations—something that may help improve the industry’s global reputation, the report adds.