Market Snapshot: PEI and Nova Scotia leading Canada in share of wind generation

Release Date: 2016-01-28

In 2015, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Nova Scotia were the only two provinces in Canada which generated 10 per cent or more of their electricity from wind sources. Wind farms accounted for 99 per cent of electricity production in PEI and close to 10 per cent of electricity production in Nova Scotia. Elsewhere in Canada, the share of wind in total generation does not exceed four per cent.Footnote 1

*Note 1: In order to provide a more accurate picture, PEI’s red bar represents the share of wind in total electricity consumption, not generation, due to PEI’s uniquely high electricity imports.
Note 2: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, and Yukon, which have few or no wind farms, are not represented in the graph.

Figure Source and Description

Source: EF 2016

Description: The chart consists of two series of bars representing the share of wind in total electricity generation capacity and total electricity generation (or consumption, in case of PEI) across provinces and territories, as well as in Canada as a whole. Jurisdictions are listed in decreasing order based on the share of wind in their generation mix. Except for PEI and Nova Scotia, the share of wind in the capacity mix is lower than 10 per cent and the share of wind in the generation mix is lower than five per cent. PEI’s figures were 56 per cent for capacity, 25 per cent for consumption, while Nova Scotia’s figures were 16 per cent for capacity and 10 per cent for generation.

Virtually all electricity produced in PEI (99 per cent) is generated by wind farms, which represent more than half (56 per cent) of the province’s production capacity. PEI’s remaining power stations, consisting mostly of oil-fired and diesel plants, are used only as backup. However, these local wind farms only meet approximately 25 per cent of PEI’s electricity demand, with the rest met through purchases of electricity from New Brunswick.Footnote 2

Nova Scotia has historically relied on coal to generate most of its electricity. In 2010, the province committed to increase the share of electricity production from renewable sources such as wind and hydro to 25 per cent in 2015 and 40 per cent in 2020. Between 2012 and 2015, multiple wind projects were awarded contracts through a Community-Feed-In-Tariff program.Footnote 3 In 2015, wind capacity in Nova Scotia reached 552 MW or 16 per cent of total capacity while production from wind approached 10 per cent of total generation,Footnote 4 the highest level in Canada after PEI.

Elsewhere in Canada, wind’s share of total capacity and generation is more modest even though most wind capacity, in absolute terms, is located in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. In 2015, wind power plants accounted for six per cent of Canada’s electricity generation capacity, but actually generated only 2.5 per cent of total electricity. Wind turbines cannot operate when the wind does not blow and the electricity they produce cannot currently be stored in large quantities, which means that they are utilized to a lesser extent than more easily managed facilities such as hydro dams or nuclear plants.

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