Wind could provide more than one-third of Canada’s electrical power without destabilizing electricity grids or requiring new long-distance transmission lines, a new study says.
And wind in Canada is so evenly distributed around the country, “there is little incentive to ‘concentrate’ [turbines] in provinces with marginally better resources, when wind resources of almost equal quality are located closer to the provincial load centres,” the study finds. “It may make more sense to install wind plants where the energy would provide the most benefit to the power grid.”
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Prepared by GE Consulting for the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study says the country has more than enough resources to generate, and contemporary grids could reliably absorb, enough wind-generated power to meet 35% of the national load—and up to 50% in some provinces.
Nor is that the limit to Canada’s wind potential. “The study could have considered higher penetration levels,” its authors write. “35% presented a reasonable final scenario for study, and does not represent a technical limit on wind penetration.”
Advised by utilities serving Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta, among others, the study concludes that wind resources could easily supply 65,225 MW of power to the national grid, second to hydro’s 70,037 MW, but ahead of the 51,835 MW that would come from fossil and nuclear power in its scenario. That level of wind output is more than six times present capacity.
The study envisions most new Canadian wind facilities being located in coastal and northeastern British Columbia, southwestern Alberta, southern Ontario, Quebec’s Gaspé region, Northumberland Strait and Cape Breton Island.
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