Wind energy on growth trend, major offshore project proposed for Nova Scotia

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The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) reports that Canada is now ranked seventh in the world for total installed wind energy capacity. During 2015, Canada added 1,506 MW of new capacity, bringing the total to 11,205 MW (11.2 gigawatts). This supplied approximately 5 per cent of Canada’s electricity demand in 2015. One gigawatt is enough to power approximately 700,000 homes. CanWEA says that the wind energy industry continued a five-year trend as the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada.

Ontario installed more than any other province, adding 871 MW for a total of 4,361 MW installed. A further 2,000 MW is already contracted to be installed in Ontario over the next few years, according to CanWEA. Quebec is Canada’s second-largest wind energy market with 3,262 MW installed.

Denmark has gone much further with wind energy than most countries. The Scandinavian country produced 42 per cent of its electricity from wind in 2015, according to data reported in the Guardian newspaper. The country benefits from exceptionally windy conditions in its offshore territory, so much so that on certain days it can meet all of its own electricity needs with enough left over to export. Denmark sells most of its surplus electricity to neighbouring Norway, Sweden and Germany.

China, however, accounted for the greatest amount of renewable energy development in 2015. Almost 40 per cent of all new wind, solar, biopower and small hydro installations in the world were in China. China added 45 GW of renewable power projects just last year. The global total now stands at 914 GW, enough to power about 640 million homes.

Here in Canada, a Newfoundland company has revealed a plan to build a $4 billion wind farm 20 kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia. Beothuk Energy Inc.’s plan is for 120 turbines producing 1,000 MW of electricity which would be exported to New England via underwater cable. The president of Beothuk, Kirby Mercer, told CBC news that New England utilities are “scrambling” for power as they move away from coal and nuclear. Wind power, he said, is preferred over hydro in the United States. It has been reported that Beothuk would work together with Siemens Offshore Wind, Talon Energy and Maderra Engineering to construct the wind farm. If the project is approved and moves forward, it would create about 600 jobs during construction and several hundred more during operation.

Wind energy and energy distribution are among several areas identified by BuildForce Canada as being sources of job opportunities in Nova Scotia in coming years.

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