If Canadian wind energy is to continue its ascent, the federal government needs to reaffirm its commitment to the renewable energy technology, according to Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).
Hornung – speaking at the association's annual conference and exhibition, held in Montreal this week – told attendees during a session that although the federal government's past support transformed Canada into a global powerhouse, more recent demonstrations of support have been non-existent.
‘The federal government jump-started the wind industry, but federal government support hasn't been active in some time,’ said Hornung. He said the industry awaits more shows of federal leadership, such as the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program, which offered a subsidy of C$0.01/kWh.
The popular ecoENERGY program became oversubscribed in 2011, and no program equivalent has taken its place, Hornung asserted. However, he said, the federal government has the ability to make amends quickly.
‘An essential first step is correcting market signals,’ he said, adding that investments in transmission infrastructure, as well as wind integration and energy storage, would go a long way in keeping Canada's wind industry on track.
One political party willing to pledge such needed support is Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP), which aims to make wind energy a core part of its climate change platform. The NDP is vying to unseat Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada since 2006, in the country's 2015 federal elections.
‘We aim to make Canada a superpower in energy,’ Megan Leslie, NDP's deputy leader and chief environmental critic, told attendees at the CanWEA session. ‘Our natural resources have always been the engine that drives our economic growth.’
If elected to lead Canada, Leslie said, the NDP will prioritize clean energy, such as wind.
Among other agenda items, the NDP aims to institute ‘a cap-and-trade system that puts a clear price on carbon,’ she noted. Additionally, the party would reinvest the C$1 billion currently allocated to fossil fuels into clean energy programs.
Leslie referenced a recent report from Canada's Environmental Commission, which found that the ruling Conservative Party is unlikely to meet its own clean energy targets.
‘If the federal government is to play a role in reshaping clean energy,’ Leslie said, ‘they need to do it better.’