Renewable Energy Technology

Wind Power

Current Energy Use

As the world’s leader in power consumption, North America is a prime target for renewable energy developers. Not only does Canada represent the sixth largest electrical system in the world, but the United States, by far, is the world’s number one consumer. Combine this with electricity rates that have increased by nearly 50% in the past fifteen years, and the result is a geographical area just begging for alternative sources of energy.

In Canada, even though 60% of the power produced is from a renewable source, the vast majority of that is through hydroelectric production, which can be a tremendous drain on water resources, not to mention the effect that it has on wildlife habitats. In addition, most hydroelectric sources are already being used at full capacity. Nuclear power also contributes to the Canadian electrical system (approximately 20%), but those facilities cost significantly more to build today due to high construction costs.

Wind is used to generate electricity in more than 70 countries around the world, totalling approximately 1% of global electricity production. But in Canada, less than 1% of the country’s electricity comes from wind.

The United States wind power industry has grown 30% over the past 5 years, with wind energy second only to natural gas in new energy production. This has propelled the US to the top of the list in terms of worldwide wind energy production, with China following closely behind.

As wind power moves forward, the advantages to Canada are particularly obvious. Though wind farms are not the cheapest form of energy available, they are very competitive, and prices for other types of energy are likely to increase, leaving them as the low-cost option. With Canada’s massive landmass, this could be a major boon. It is estimated that Canada could power the entire country solely on wind power while only utilizing 0.25% of its land! Atlantic Canada has an even greater opportunity due to its proximity to the densely populated northeastern United States and the possibility of exporting electricity across the border.

The Vision

Studies estimate that the need for electricity in Canada is likely to grow more than one third within the next 15 years, and electricity rates are expected to rise due to increases in coal and natural gas. To combat this, the Canadian Wind Energy Association has set a goal of supplying 20% of Canada’s energy through wind power by 2025. Furthermore, the United States Department of Energy has concluded that 20% of the United States energy use (304 GW) could come from wind by 2030.

Worldwide, electricity consumption is slated to rise from approximately 94,000 MW today to 500,000 MW in 2020.


Achieving these goals will require a tremendous amount of investment in research and infrastructure. In Canada, 22,000 turbines will need to be installed across 450 locations, occupying an area approximately the size of Prince Edward Island. The Canadian Wind Energy Association estimates that $79 billion in investments will be required to complete the process.

In the United States, turbine installation will have to triple, and an additional 30,000 km of transmission line will need to be installed. The total bill is expected to be between $450 and $600 billion.


For investors, who are expected to contribute between $800 billion and $1 trillion into the wind industry by 2020, the benefits of wind power are obvious. Coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear power are all significant contributors to pollution, and even renewable power sources such as water can have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Wind generation, on the other hand, produces no emissions, uses no water, and produces little waste. The most common complaints of wind power – impact on visual landscape, noise, and wildlife disruption – can be mitigated through proper site design. On the whole, wind power could provide more than 50,000 MW of clean energy while simultaneously cutting greenhouse gases by 17 megatons by 2025.

Wind power is a very practical “next step” in moving away from big polluters and works very well with hydroelectricity. The natural cycle of wind and water means that wind reaches its peak at the same time that hydroelectricity reaches a low. And when wind power reaches a high, it is easy to regulate a hydro facility, providing an easy way to prevent over-capacity.

But the real power behind wind energy is its potential economic impact. In Canada alone, the result could be the creation of 50,000 new jobs and more than $150 million in additional revenue for municipalities around the country. Furthermore, a large investment in wind energy could result in various spin-off opportunities, whether in manufacturing or research and development. Installation and maintenance costs associated with wind power are expected to remain stable, and, of course, the fuel is free.

What RET Can Do for Your Wind Project

RET can follow your wind project from start to finish. From offering advice and consulting on project development, engineering, grid connections, and equipment procurement to providing site analyses, RET can ensure that your project is on the right track. Once built, RET can help with monitoring and maintenance as well as data analysis to ensure optimization of equipment usage. No matter which stage you’re at now, RET is ready to help. Contact one of our consultants today and find out what we can do for you.

Renewable Energy Technology