PEI Leads The Way

Prince Edward Island is going to be known for more than potatoes.  It is going to be known as Canada’s leader in wind energy.

PEI is Canada’s most densely populated province.  It has about 140,000 inhabitants, and the population is stable.  The same is true of its electricity demand.  The minimum load on the Island is about 100 MW, and the peak load is 210 MW.  It is a winter peaking jurisdiction.  PEI is not served by natural gas, so most homes and business heat their space and hot water with oil.  Electricity is mostly imported from New Brunswick via undersea cable.  As such, PEI imports almost all of their energy.  Until now.

As of the end of 2006, PEI had 13.5 MW of installed wind capacity.  And this was enough to supply about 5% of their electricity.  In January, the 30 MW Eastern Kings wind farm, began production.  It was built by the PEI Energy Corporation, a Provincial Crown Corporation.   And there is a further 29 MW is under development by Ventus (a firm on which I proudly serve on the Board) with 9 MW at Norway, near the existing 10.5 MW North Cape wind farm, and 20 MW at West Cape.  As such, the wind farms on PEI are as geographically dispersed as they can be.

Once completed, the total installed capacity will be 72 MW, and should generate about 20-25% of PEI’s electricity, rivalling Denmark in the percentage of power supplied by wind.
An interesting possibility for the Island would be to use more electricity for space and water heating, replacing fuel oil.  With ongoing price increases in fuel oil, and stable cost from wind energy, switching to electricity may be quite viable, especially if given a little government incentive.  Heat can be stored, in ceramics, rocks, or water, which if properly implemented, could smooth wind’s variability.  And of course, wind is more productive in the winter, so it matches the heating load quite well.  Ground souce heat pumps, which provide 4 units of heat for every unit of electricity used would be a very efficient way of providing heat.  Why import energy when you can make it at home?

The wind farms on PEI have been welcomed by local farmers, who have seen a diversification of their income, and tourist operators alike.  The North Cape wind farm gets thousands of tourists every year, providing a much needed boost to the economy.  Local electrical contractors, concrete suppliers, and construction workers have been kept busy.

The government of PEI has been actively involved in encouraging the wind business.  The energy minister, Jamie Ballem, has been a frequent attendee at CanWEA conferences, tirelessly promoting his Province to the industry.  And he has welcomed both public and private investment in the wind business.  The strategy has succeeded – the province will exceed their goal of 15% of their power from wind by 2010 this year.  And more is to come.

Congratulations PEI!  You are showing the way.

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