Growing Renewable PowerUntil 2001, Prince Edward Island acquired nearly all of its electricity from the mainland through two submarine cables spanning the Northumberland Strait. Most of this electricity was generated through facilities that utilized fossil fuels.
Our province has no known commercial resources of oil and natural gas or other fuels for traditional forms of electrical generation. Yet, we have an excellent wind regime with potential for development and expansion as a cost-effective source of electricity.
In 2001, the PEI Energy Corporation developed Atlantic Canada's first commercial wind farm at North Cape marking the Island's first step toward clean, renewable power. North Cape's first phase of wind development generated 5.26 MW from eight turbines. In 2003, this capacity was doubled. Wind power was viable and was proving to be cost-effective, particularly in comparison to oil-fired generation with world oil prices rising. Turbines at North Cape have continued to provide a reliable and source of electricity to Islanders, while offering a competitive and stable price.
Since 2001, wind development has steadily grown across the province. The PEI Energy Corporation, representing public ownership, introduced the first turbines in 2001. Other corporate structures have been created for subsequent developments as follows:
In 2002, Aeolus Wind PEI, a subsidiary of the largest turbine seller in the world, Vestas, established a V-90 3 MW wind turbine at North Cape. The V-90 model has been deployed throughout the world and several may be seen in PEI.
Today, the Island's largest wind farm is found at West Cape. This farm has a nominal generating capacity of 99 MW. The facility was established in two phases by GDF Suez North America, a member of a large international energy consortium, that supplies both local and export contracts. Phase one was commissioned in 2007 (20 MW) and the remaining 70 MW was commissioned in 2009. Suez has also established a 9 MW wind farm in Norway, PEI dedicated to supplying only on-Island demand.
In 2010, City of Summerside established the first municipally owned and operated wind facility in Prince Edward Island. Located on the outskirts of the community, this facility generates up to 12 MW of electricity. The city also purchases electricity from the West Cape Wind Farm making it one of the greenest municipalities in the world.
In 2007, the PEI Energy Corporation commissioned a 30 MW wind farm in eastern Kings County. All of the energy from the East Point Wind Plant is sold to Maritime Electric Co. Ltd. for domestic consumption. The Corporation will commission a second 30 MW wind farm by late 2012.
In 2012, the former Wind Energy Institute of Canada established the nation's premiere site for testing and demonstrating wind technology. Located in North Cape, PEI, the Altantic Wind Test Site generates10 MW of electricity and deploys innovative energy storage equipment. The development of a cost-effective method of storing electricity would overcome the limitations that are imposed by the intermittent nature of wind.
Wind Power: Intermittent but Valuable
In 2011, Prince Edward Island acquired over 20% of its electricity supply from wind power. A clean, renewable form of energy, wind power has recently become cost stable and has proven to be cost-effective. It also provides Islanders with energy security.
While valuable, wind power is intermittent. Obviously, the wind doesn't blow all the time, and when it does, it is very seldom at a velocity sufficient for the turbines to operate at their maximum capacity. There are even occasions when the wind blows so strong that the turbines must shut down. This necessitates a back up supply or backstop generator to always be in reserve at a moment's notice.
Despite the inherent limitations of wind power, this renewable form of energy has a bright future, in Prince Edward Island and abroad. As a world leader in this technology, our province strives to increase the percentage of wind power in our electrical supply mix.
Over the next few years, we expect to acquire 30% of our electricity from wind power, making it one of our most valuable natural resources.