An analysis by GL Garrad Hassan has found that the assessed cost of wind energy in British Columbia is significantly lower than indicated in BC Hydro's draft integrated resource plan (IRP).
The report, commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), updates older cost and productivity estimates of 121 potential onshore wind development sites across British Columbia that are used by BC Hydro for electricity system analysis.
The report found that wind turbine prices have dropped by 20% since 2009, while at the same time, the productivity of turbines has increased by as much as 27%.
As a result, the cost curve for British Columbia wind resources is flatter than previously thought because lower-speed wind resources have yielded the largest decreases in cost relative to BC Hydro's draft IRP, according to the report.
Additionally, the report concludes that wind energy resources outside of the province's Peace region appear to be more competitive.
The report is available here.
"BC Hydro is facing an incredible challenge over the next decade as new liquefied natural gas plants and mining activity drive electricity demand up by a third – or 16,500 GWh," said Nicholas Heap, CanWEA's B.C. regional director.
"With lower production costs and improvements in wind turbine technology, harnessing British Columbia's wind resource is now an even better option for generating large amounts of affordable, zero-emission renewable energy," said Heap. "With a much shorter construction time than large-scale hydro, wind energy is an obvious solution to meeting Brtish Columbia's energy demand."
CanWEA says the new data can make a useful contribution to the work underway to develop a new IRP for the province.