Canadian wind energy seen adding C$1 bln to GDP

Canadian wind energy seen adding C$1 bln to GDP

Manitoba – Wind energy is expected to contribute more than C$1 billion ($890 million) to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2006, up from C$736 million in 2005, an industry spokesman said on Tuesday.

“(Last year) was a record year for the wind industry. There was added capacity, and 2006 is going to be another record year,” Canadian Wind Energy Association spokesman Sean Whittaker told Reuters at the group’s annual conference in the Prairie city of Winnipeg.

The association estimates wind energy, a renewable power source for generating electricity, contributed C$550 million toward the country’s
GDP in 2004.

Canada’s current wind energy capacity is more than 1,200 megawatts, up from approximately 700 MW in 2005, according to the association.

Wind energy currently generates approximately 0.5 percent of the country’s electricity.

“With the growth that’s anticipated, we’ll see it up near 4 percent in 2015. Just to put that in perspective, natural gas electricity generation currently provides 4 percent of Canada’s electricity,” Whittaker said.

The recent halt of federal funding for wind energy, however, is causing the industry some concern. In 2001, Ottawa started an incentive program that provided long-term certainty for investors and triggered provincial governments to put their own aggressive wind targets in place, Whittaker said.

“If you add up all of the provincial obligations, we will be going up to stock capacity of 10,000 MW by 2015. That development is really contingent on the continued strong federal signal that they want to invest in wind and they want to build this industry,” he said.

“Now that there’s that uncertainty, with respect to the federal government’s commitment … there’s some question if that 10,000 MW in 2015 will happen.”

The western Prairie province Alberta holds the most installed wind energy capacity, followed by Ontario and Quebec in Eastern Canada.

($1=$1.13 Canadian)

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