On Wednesday, the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments expressed strong support for wind energy at the opening of the 34th annual CanWEA Conference and Exhibition in Calgary, Alberta, during which the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) presented a new “vision” for the country’s wind industry.
Jessica Littlewood – member of the legislative assembly for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville and parliamentary secretary to the minister of economic development and trade for small business – set the tone for the day by reaffirming in opening remarks her government’s commitment to triple the percentage of electricity demand to be met by renewable sources to as much as 30% by 2030. Cost-competitive wind energy is expected to provide the majority of this 5,000 MW of new non-emitting power, according to CanWEA.
Dustin Duncan, minister of environment for the Province of Saskatchewan and minister responsible for SaskPower, was also welcomed by delegates in the plenary session, during which he reiterated his government’s commitment to see renewable energy sources make up 50% of electricity generating capacity within 15 years – a plan that calls for the addition of about 1,900 MW of new wind energy. The winner of the first competitive procurement on the path to meeting this goal was recently announced, with SaskPower’s 200 MW award to Potentia Renewables Inc.
“We have a comprehensive climate change strategy in Saskatchewan that includes increasing our renewable power generation,” said Duncan. “As an environmentally sustainable energy source, wind power will continue to be an important part of our generation mix, and we are proud of the steps we are taking to increase its role in meeting our electricity needs.”
Conference attendees also learned from the insights presented during the keynote luncheon, which featured North Carolina Rep. Jason Saine talking with Sarah Hunt, co-founder and CEO of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, during a session entitled “Why Conservatives Love Wind Energy.”
“The wind is an energy resource like any other; it’s there for us to put to work, creating jobs, growing our economies and powering American prosperity,” said Saine. “I’m a lifetime member of the Republican Party, and I know the wind doesn’t care who you vote for or what bumper stickers you might have on your car. Harnessing it is just good business. I encourage all my skeptical conservative friends, both back at home in North Carolina and here in Canada, to take another look at what it has to offer.”
CanWEA notes that Oct. 23 was the deadline for qualified proponents to propose clean energy projects under Phase 2 and 3 of the Alberta Electric System Operator’s Renewable Electricity Program. Contracts awarded under these concurrent phases will supply the province with up to 700 MW of new clean electricity – part of the first steps toward what will ultimately be 5,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity expected as part of the province’s Climate Leadership Plan.
“Alberta is a proud leader in all forms of energy. Under Premier Rachel Notley’s leadership, we’ve secured record-low prices for wind power while creating thousands of new jobs and attracting billions of dollars in new private investment,” said Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Alberta’s minister of energy. “The wind sector is helping drive Alberta’s renewable energy goals, and we’ll continue fighting to ensure no one can turn back the clock on these great economic diversification opportunities for Albertans.”
Citing recent CanWEA polling, the association says 61% of respondents agreed that Alberta should encourage the development of non-emitting electricity, and roughly the same number (60%) also supported provincial policy to encourage wind power development.
Further, a highlight of the show’s opening plenary on Tuesday was the launch of “A Wind Energy Vision for Canada,” which paints a picture of the expanding role for wind energy in Canada.
Among other statistics, CanWEA’s new resource says that Canada’s wind energy industry has attracted more than C$23 billion in investment; created nearly 58,000 person years of employment in construction and operations; and directly benefited more than 295 communities in 12 provinces and territories, including involvement with over 35 Indigenous communities.
“If Canada is to do its part to address climate change, by the middle of the century, the nation’s power grid must be overwhelmingly free of greenhouse-gas emissions,” Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, said at the launch. “Wind power will play a central role in providing affordable and clean electricity for buildings, vehicles, factories and more. With consistent policy signals, and in deep collaboration with communities and other enabling technologies, Canada’s wind energy industry is ready to deliver the electricity this nation will need.”