Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ontario stifles offshore wind energy

The wind energy industry took a blow on February 11 last week when the Ontario government suddenly put a stop to any prospects for offshore wind energy projects until further notice.

February 14, 2011   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The wind energy industry took a blow on February 11 last week when the Ontario government suddenly put a stop to any prospects for offshore wind energy projects until further notice.

A press release announced that the province would not proceed with any such projects “while further scientific research is conducted.”

The government said it would no longer accept applications for offshore wind projects in its Feed-In-Tariff program and current applications will be suspended.

The following day, the Toronto Star newspaper attributed the Liberal government’s change of heart to political motives, saying they had come under pressure from anti-wind power activists such as an organized group who live along the Scarborough Bluffs east of Toronto, the site of one proposed offshore wind farm.

While no freshwater offshore wind projects exist yet in North America, there is a  five-turbine pilot project proposed for Ohio on Lake Erie.  Sweden also has a pilot project in freshwater as well.

The Ontario government said it was still committed to renewable energy, but some environmentalists feared that land wind projects could also be at risk. Opponents to all wind turbines on purported health grounds have been active and vocal recently.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association responded to the Ontario government’s decision with “disappointment,” and noted that it “creates significant uncertainty for investors.”

One off-shore contract in Kingston, Ontario with Windstream has already been accepted by the Ontario government. According to the Toronto Star report, Brad Duguid, the province’s Minister of Energy, said that project would not be cancelled but would be put on hold “until the science is done.”

Jeff Garrah of the Kingston Economic Development Corp, was apparently “shocked and horrified,” by the news, and suggested it would deter investors.

CANWEA says that in 2009 there was more than 2000 MW of installed offshore wind energy capacity in 10 countries around the world, although none in North Americ


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