Gust of Support for Canadian Wind Power

Via the CBC, Manitoba is making a big investment in green power with Canada’s largest wind farm. The planned farm near St. Joseph, MB will generate 300 megawatts over 130 turbines. The farm will be built by a private company, Babcock & Brown Canada, with the power sold to Manitoba Hydro.

“The St. Joseph wind farm will add another renewable resource to Manitoba’s considerable portfolio of renewable hydroelectric generating facilities,” [Manitoba Hydro CEO] Brennan said.

Local landowners will receive $70 million in lease payments. Environmental benefits include displacing 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, Brennan said — the equivalent of taking 145,000 cars off the road.

This quadruples Manitoba’s wind power output, putting them second to Alberta, and narrowly ahead of Ontario. However, these rankings are changing quickly. Two weeks ago Ontario opened a 101 MW, 44 turbine farm near Chatham-Kent, ON. Ontario has pledged end their use of coal electricity by 2014, and they’re 75% there.

Meanwhile in BC, a proposal by Vancouver-based NaiKun Energy has been submitted to BC Hydro to build a 396MW wind farm offshore in the Hecate Strait between the Queen Charlotte Islands and Prince Rupert. This would also connected the Islands to the mainland power grid, ending their dependence on diesel generators. This would be Canada’s first offshore wind farm.

“Hecate Strait has some of the strongest, most consistent winds in Canada…This region has the potential to become one of the most efficient and high-producing wind project locations in the world…. The shallow and sandy seabed at the NaiKun project site is well suited to offshore construction. Additional project phases can be implemented as needed to meet the future energy needs of British Columbians.”

Support for wind power by Canadian governments and industry is promising on the road to renewable energy, but are still baby steps: these new projects will bump wind power to just over 1% of Canada’s energy supply.

Tangentially on the subject of green power, The Tyee writes about an Abbotsford farmer/energy entreprenuer who is in talks with Terasen Gas to supply them with bio-methane created from manure. In a process called anaerobic digestion, organic waste can be converted into bio-methane that can be used for heating in place of natural gas. A utility in Vermont has been doing this for a few years, dubbing it “cowpower”.