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Wind energy sector poised for growth in Alberta

By ReNew Canada 08:52AM September 27, 2017

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The Alberta Government’s plan to add 5,000 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity by 2030 will deliver economic opportunities, in addition to environmental benefits, according to a new report by The Delphi Group for the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), which was produced with funding support from the Alberta government.

Wind energy is well positioned to deliver the renewable energy required to meet the Alberta government’s commitment. The report, Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study, finds that if wind energy were to meet 90 per cent of the government’s commitment, it would result in an estimated $8.3 billion of investment in new wind energy projects in the province. According to the study, these projects are expected to result in $3.7 billion in spending in Alberta and almost 15,000 job years of employment by 2030, provided that the province creates the right enabling conditions to build on its existing strengths. The report also estimates that the wind industry will contribute $25.5 million in municipal property taxes and $13.5 million in land lease payments to Alberta land owners over the same period.

“The report findings highlight that wind energy plays to Alberta’s strengths, and that the province’s highly skilled workforce is a tremendous foundation for growth in the sector,” said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. “A clear, long-term procurement policy will ensure that Alberta can maximize the economic and environmental benefits associated with wind energy.”

Alberta is already home to a highly skilled workforce that could support the growth of the wind energy sector. Many of the skills and occupations required to develop wind projects—such as engineering, construction, operations and maintenance—are transferable from the oil and gas sector. A long-term renewable energy procurement policy that sends clear signals to wind project developers and investors, will create the investment environment required to achieve these dramatic increases in local spending and job years. Expanding on Alberta’s existing climate policy goals to include greater electrification of the economy would spur even further industry growth.

“The wind energy sector provides enormous potential for employment growth in Alberta,” said Mary Moran, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development. “We have a lot of great talent and a strong ecosystem in this province, we just need to help the province broaden our energy portfolio so that we remain competitive across all our sectors. The report provides direction on how best we can support and grow the next generation of jobs in this province.”

If 90 per cent of the new renewable energy capacity added by 2030 comes from utility-scale wind farms, local spending in Alberta related to project development and construction could reach $3.6 billion, and with $137 million expected in local operations and maintenance spending, the total exceeds $3.7 billion. Approximately 14,862 direct person years of employment and 714 full-time equivalent jobs in Alberta could also be realized.

Alberta now ranks third in Canada with an installed wind energy capacity of 1,479 MW. The province’s wind farms produce enough electricity each year to power 625,000 homes, equivalent to about six per cent of Alberta’s electricity demand.

Download the full Alberta Wind Energy Supply Chain Study. The report was authored by The Delphi Group.

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