Canadian Hydro Developers have announced the completion of phase II of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre, located near Shelburne, Ontario. With the completion of phase II, the project now generates 199.5 MW of wind power, making it the largest wind farm in Canada, accounting for more than 10% of the country's entire wind energy capacity of 1,876 MW. But while this is a landmark development for Canadian wind energy, wind only provides for 0.8 percent of Canada’s total electricity demand, largely because of the country's vast hydropower resources.
Construction of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre began with the 67.5 MW phase I in the spring of 2005 and achieved commercial operation in March 2006. Construction of the 132 MW Phase II of the project began in the autumn of 2007. Completion of the project puts the province of Ontario at the front of the provincial wind energy race in Canada.
"We are proud that Canadian Hydro Developers picked Ontario as the location for Canada's largest wind farm," says George Smitherman, deputy premier and minister of energy and infrastructure. "This important investment not only has valuable spin-off benefits for the local community, but benefits all Ontarians by boosting our supply of nonpolluting power."
Wind energy development has lagged somewhat in Canada as compared to its counterparts in Europe and the United States. Canada's total installed capacity is a paltry 1876 MW. Whereas, the U.S. installed 1389 MW in the third quarter of 2008 alone, putting the total nameplate capacity over 21,000 MW (21.2 GW). The slow development of wind energy in Canada is largely because of the country's massive hydroelectric resource, which provides 60% of its electricity. And because of this excellent hydroelectric resource, the country may be able to integrate the inherent variability of wind energy more seamlessly than other grids.
The country's major wind energy industry group, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is spearheading an initiative to generate 20 percent of the country’s demand by 2025, bringing total Canadian wind-energy capacity to 55,000 MW. A concerted effort like the one proposed by CanWEAwould make the Canadian wind-power sector a major player in an international wind-energy market valued at $1.8 trillion. Development on this scale would also have a major impact on the economy, CanWEA argues, creating 52,000 full-time jobs.