Future development of Canada”˜s wind energy industry could be adversely affected if the federal government doesn”˜t proceed with expansion of a production incentive program, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association said Wednesday.
“We have been very consistent in terms of letting the new government know that we think wind energy is very consistent with a lot of their priorities in terms of climate change, clean air, rural economic development, innovative new technologies,”˜”˜ Robert Hornung said.
“We know there is support for wind energy within the new government. What we don”˜t know is what level of support will be forthcoming.”˜”˜
Hornung”˜s comments come near the end of a year in which Canada”˜s wind energy industry set a record for new production capacity.
Canada installed 657 megawatts of new wind energy capacity in 2006, more than doubling the previous installation record of 240 megawatts last year, and representing more than $1 billion in investment from the private sector, the association says.
That brings the total installed capacity of wind energy in Canada to 1,341 megawatts _ enough to power 406,000 homes.
The 2005 federal budget expanded the Wind Power Production Incentive Program so that it could support the development of 4,000 megawatts of wind energy in Canada.
But the program was put on hold by the Conservative government in April as Ottawa reviews how wind energy fits into its broader environmental agenda.
Program manager Denis Zborowski said Wednesday an announcement on the program is expected from the government in the next few weeks.
A number of groups competed for wind energy projects after the 2005 budget, assuming that the federal incentive would be available, Hornung said.
“If it”˜s not available, in the end it completely changes the economics of those projects, and will really threaten the viability of some of those projects and their ability to proceed.”˜”˜
Over the long term, a decision not to greenlight expansion of the incentive program raises uncertainty about the stability of the Canadian market, Hornung said.
“Investors in the industry have a range of places from where they can choose to invest their money, and they”˜re going to look at markets that provide them with stability, markets where it”˜s clear there is support for wind energy,”˜”˜ he said.
“We fully expect if there was a significant reduction in the amount of support provided that that would lead investors to start looking for opportunities elsewhere.”˜”˜
Hornung said the record-breaking year for wind energy capacity production is promising for the future of the industry in Canada.
“Clearly, the industry has experienced rapid growth,”˜”˜ he said. “It”˜s bringing forward a lot of benefits to Canada, and we hope that we will see the policy conditions sort of stay in place that will enable us to really continue to move forward and capture sort of the full range of potential we have.”˜”˜
“Canada probably has the best wind resource in the world, and we”˜ve only started to scratch the surface of capturing that potential.”˜”˜
The Canadian Wind Energy Association represents more than 250 companies involved in Canada”˜s wind energy industry, including wind turbine and component manufacturers, wind energy project developers, electric utilities and service providers.
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