If wind energy were to meet 90% of the Alberta government’s commitment to add 5 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2030, there would be an estimated C$8.3 billion of investment in new wind projects in the province. That would result in C$3.7 billion in spending in Alberta and almost 15,000 job years of employment by 2030, according to a new report released by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).
With funding support from the Alberta government, The Delphi Group’s report for CanWEA – the Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study – outlines the economic and environmental opportunities of the province’s renewable energy plans.
The report estimates that the wind industry would contribute C$25.5 million in municipal property taxes and C$13.5 million in land lease payments to Alberta landowners over the same period.
Informed by research and consultation undertaken through 20 interviews with industry stakeholders, the report provides three recommendations for how Alberta can build on its strengths and realize the opportunities associated with developing its wind energy sector:
Provide supportive policy and procurement conditions: A long-term renewable energy procurement roadmap through 2030 that aligns with the province’s renewable energy target would increase the benefits of industry development. For example, announcing a series of large procurement plans (e.g., 1.5 GW every three years) that are rolled out in smaller, manageable phases will provide the investment certainty that increases the potential positive economic impacts.
Support workforce development and training: Developing specialized training related to wind manufacturing and operations and maintenance can help Alberta maximize employment potential in the growing sector. Government can play a key role in facilitating knowledge exchange and relationships between wind project developers and post-secondary education and training institutions. Options include convening meetings of industry stakeholders and training institutions and providing opportunities for two-way communication, as well as investing in initiatives that allow industry and academia to work closely together to identify relevant and timely training opportunities.
Promote the research and innovation agenda: Investments in innovation and research and development – particularly in the areas of transportation and logistics, wind farm construction and turbine erection, smart grid and system integration, and additive manufacturing/3D printing – will help Alberta build its knowledge-based workforce and export potential related to wind energy.
“The report findings highlight that wind energy plays to Alberta’s strengths and that the province’s highly skilled workforce is a tremendous foundation for growth in the sector,” comments Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. “A clear, long-term procurement policy will ensure that Alberta can maximize the economic and environmental benefits associated with wind energy.”
The full report can be found here.