China and Canada both increasing wind energy capacity
But the Middle Kingdom is still miles ahead of the Great White North
China has such a voracious appetite for energy that it’s not just spending money to secure access to fossil fuels. Hell-bent on developing renewable energy options to keep its economy humming and rein in growing carbon emissions, the Middle Kingdom is the world’s number one producer of wind power, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) – responsible for 26.3 per cent of global wind production. How does Canada stack up against this wind energy superpower? What follows is a blow by blow account of where the two countries stand.
|The Great White North currently has 5,511 megawatts (MW) of installed wind power capacity – equivalent to about two per cent of Canada’s electricity demand or enough to power over one million homes. Ontario leads the way with 1,969 MW of installed capacity. Alberta is third with 967 MW.||Canada’s installed wind capacity is chump change compared to China’s total. It had 62,733 MW of installed wind capacity as of 2011, the GWEC says. The Chinese
increased wind power capacity by a whopping 18,000 MW – or 29 per cent – in 2011 alone. (By comparison, Canada installed 1,267 MW in 2011.)
|The projections could be extremely rosy, but the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has set a goal of supplying 20 per cent of Canada’s electricity needs through wind energy by 2025. That would require adding 55,000 MW of wind energy capacity by then and erecting 22,000 turbines in 450 locations.||Beijing has made it clear wind energy will play a large role in the country’s energy future. China’s National Energy Administration released its 12th five-year plan in 2011, which included a target of adding 100 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity by 2015.|
|CanWEA estimates it will cost $132 billion to add 55,000 MW of wind energy capacity in Canada by 2025. That level of investment would lead to 52,000 “green collar jobs”, CanWEA says. And of that $132 billion, it estimates some $79 billion could flow to Canadian equipment manufacturers, construction and engineering firms.||If the China is going to add 100 GW of wind power capacity by 2015, and meet 17 per cent of its power demands with wind energy by 2050, as the Energy Research Institute (ERI) forecasts, significant investments must be made. The ERI says that investment could reach US$1.9 trillion by 2050.|
|Energy is a provincial responsibility in Canada, not a federal one. As such, wind energy policies are being adopted in a piecemeal fashion. Nova Scotia, for example, has developed a feed-in-tariff specifically for small wind projects. But the key federal programs to support renewable energy development – the Clean Energy Fund and ecoENERGY for Renewable Power – have been scrapped.||The People’s Republic has a strategic objective to have non-fossil fuel energy make up 15 per cent of its energy mix by 2020. The government is also implementing its Renewable Energy Law and “new energy” is one of seven strategic industries to be fostered and developed during China’s 12th five-year plan, which will push wind energy development in the world’s most populous nation.|