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Offshore wind energy blowing benefits Ontario’s way

The development and operation of offshore wind energy in Ontario could create thousands of jobs during construction over a 13-year period and result in 600 permanent jobs, says a Conference Board of Canada study.


December 8, 2010
by PLANT STAFF

A Vestas Offshore wind installation in North Hoyle, Wales, in the UK.

Photo: Vestas Offshore

OTTAWA: The development and operation of offshore wind energy in Ontario could create thousands of jobs during construction over a 13-year period and result in 600 permanent jobs, says a Conference Board of Canada study.

Between 2013 and 2026, the estimates an average of 3,900 to 4,400 jobs per year during the construction phase and peak employment of 600 permanent positions in the operations and maintenance of offshore wind turbines. And that’s a conservative estimate of the market potential based on reaching 2,000 megawatts of generation capacity over 15 years.

The study, which assesses the potential contribution of offshore wind generation to the province’s electricity supply, employment, and economic activity, says offshore wind would add between $4.8 and $5.5 billion to the economy over the 13-year period. Capital investment and operations spending would total $10.044 billion.

Ontario’s long-term commitment to eliminate coal-fired power generation and replace it with renewable electricity allows the development of offshore wind projects under its Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program.

“An offshore wind industry in Ontario – one that develops enough projects to be sustainable in the longer term – would create both short-term construction employment and permanent green jobs in the operations phase,” said Len Coad, director of environment, energy and technology policy for the Conference Board of Canada. “Should development progress as anticipated, it is likely that new industries will develop in the province to service the needs of the growing sector.”

The study was financed by Vestas Offshore A/S, a wind-power developer based in Denmark.

The Conference Board analysis assumes seven projects in Ontario would add 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2026 (5.7% of the total current generating capacity in Ontario of 35,000 megawatts), about 20% of the province’s renewable energy target.

Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan calls for renewable capacity from wind, solar and bioenergy to rise from 1,657 megawatts this year to 10,700 megawatts in 2018.

The potential offshore wind projects identified by the Conference Board study would contribute 1014 megawatts of that growth in renewable capacity by 2018, plus an additional 986 megawatts in the longer term.

There are currently no offshore wind farms in operation or under construction in North America. Two major Ontario projects – both in Lake Ontario near Kingston – are progressing toward implementation, which together would add 714 megawatt of capacity.

Click here for a copy of Employment and Economic Impacts of Ontario’s Future Offshore Wind Power Industry.
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