Wind energy touted as clean solution to BC’s power needs

June 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

A clean energy choice is being touted as the solution to meet growing energy demands in this province.

Wind farms are a low-cost and relatively low-impact energy supply.

While there are already several in the province, many more are needed to meet B.C.’s new industrial opportunities.

Near Tumbler Ridge, Capital Power’s wind farm isn’t too difficult to find.  Here, 79 turbines dot the landscape.

Constructed in 2012, the farm now churns out enough energy to power 46,000 homes.

It’s one of three wind farms in B.C., with a fourth expected to be completed by the end of the year.

It’s just the start, as many in the industry are expecting billions of dollars in new projects to move forward this decade.

“We have everything in place,” says Nicholas Heap of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

“What we need is the opportunity to provide that electricity to B.C.”

The opportunity for clean energy is being re-kindled by old world energy sources.

Wind power producers want to power the next generation of B.C. mines and liquefied natural gas facilities.

Powering LNG will need tremendous amounts of energy.

At the moment, the government is looking seriously looking at building the controversial Site C dam along the Peace River just south of Fort St. John to power its LNG ambitions.

Clean energy producers are desperately hoping wind farms can be built to ride the multi-billion dollar LNG wave.

“When we look at LNG, upstream oil and gas, new mines – all of these are extremely energy intensive and all of these can be electrified,” says Heap.

Part of the enthusiasm comes from a clean energy renaissance in the United States, where wind power installations have been booming for six years.

Global adoption has led to technology improvement, made turbines more efficient and driven drown costs by twenty percent, making wind power significantly more cost competitive.

Currently just 1 per cent of the electricity generated in B.C. comes from wind energy. The industry wants to change that over the next decade to 17 per cent.

In order to achieve that, B.C. would go from four wind farms to forty.

The numbers may be low today, but Paul Kariya of the Clean Energy Association of B.C. says power derived from clean energy will play a major role in the province’s future generating capacity.

A major reason for our low wind power use can be blamed on decisions made by WAC Bennett.

BC Hydro’s extensive network has provided reliable power for decades.

We overbuilt and have reaped the rewards.

But now, our needs our growing again significantly because of LNG.

Private sector power producers were encouraged to build by the BC Liberals last decade, with the guarantee.

BC Hydro would sign lucrative contracts to buy the power.

Critics have said the public utility is over-paying now when it could purchase the power from the open market for a fraction of the cost, essentially subsidizing private business.

Many worry the same might happen with wind power.

“You’ve got take a long term view, if you were to look six months ago today, indeed the prices paid for long term power is higher than what we call the spot market,” says Kariya.

While the talk will continue surrounding B.C.’s widening energy gap and how it will be supplied.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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