The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) attracted more than 170 attendees to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel for its annual Spring Forum conference held April 17-18. Over the two-day event, many of Canada’s wind energy leaders shared a sense of optimism about the growth of wind energy in Canada, and the economic and environmental benefits it is delivering as the lowest-price, emissions-free source of new electricity for not only Alberta and Saskatchewan, but for other provinces across Canada.
They also discussed the implications of the Alberta election and subjects such as Indigenous engagement, recent developments in Canada’s wind markets, new technologies, and the evolution of government electricity and climate policies.
A day-one highlight was a wide-ranging keynote address by Peter Tertzakian, Executive Director of the ARC Energy Research Institute in Calgary, who described the new energy revolution driven by competition, innovation, supply additions and lower prices.
Much of the focus of Canada’s wind energy industry is now on Alberta and Saskatchewan, where it is poised to grow rapidly in the next few years. Wind energy has proven attractive to the prairie provinces because it has become the low-price leader, and because it helps to de-carbonize the electricity grid.
In competitive electricity-supply auctions in Alberta in 2017 and 2018, the auctions secured 1,363 megawatts of wind energy at average weighted prices of $37 to $39 per megawatt-hour. Saskatchewan’s most recent procurement attracted widespread interest from the wind energy industry, with the winning bid coming in below $35 per megawatt hour.
These recent prices were new lows for wind energy in Canada and make wind energy the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in the country.
The Spring Forum began just as the Alberta election results were announced, revealing a victory by the United Conservative Party. Forum speakers emphasized that the wind energy industry expects to work closely with the new government and the electricity system operator to continue to build the new wind energy projects that will deliver low-priced power, keeping electricity affordable for Albertans.
“The four key attributes of wind energy – low price, emission-free, reliable and flexible – underpin my optimism that wind energy can compete with, and win against, every other large-scale electricity option to meet Canada’s future needs. We are the lowest-cost provider; we generate emission-free power; our product is increasingly contributing to the reliability of the grid; and we offer a flexible and scalable solution to system operators as well as decentralized grids,” said Robert Hornung, president, CanWEA.