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The uncertainty surrounding the extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power in the U.S. has led some developers and suppliers to seek opportunities in the Canadian wind energy market.

Roby Roberts, vice president of communications and government affairs at EDP Renewables North America, tells NAW that the company is aggressively exploring opportunities to either acquire Canadian wind projects or partner in them.

"Without the PTC in the U.S., Canada is an option, and there seem to be opportunities," Roberts says. "Ontario, with its feed-in tariff, maintains a robust policy, as do Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia."

In fact, according to Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), interest from the U.S. in the Canadian market has never been higher. He says the interest in the country illustrates the importance of stable policy.

"Canada - and, in particular, Ontario - has emerged as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally," Hornung notes. "This industry represents billions of dollars in new investments across the manufacturing and construction sectors. Maintaining this growth and momentum will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework."

For example, Ontario and Quebec - the leading provinces for wind energy in Canada - have each reaffirmed their commitment to wind energy with long-term policy agendas. 

Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan, which was announced in 2010, envisions 10.7 GW of non-hydro renewable energy capacity by 2018. Of that amount, 7.5 GW is expected to be wind energy. Of course, that plan is in addition to the province's Green Energy Act of 2009, which includes North America's first feed-in tariff.

Quebec, meanwhile, previously set an energy target of 4 GW of wind energy by 2015, which includes a goal of building 100 MW of wind energy for every 1 GW of new hydropower. A request for proposals to procure the target's remaining 700 MW is expected to be announced later this year.

Canada’s 5.4 GW of installed wind power capacity pales in comparison to the U.S.’ 48.611 GW. However, with similar or higher levels of growth expected over the next four years, Canada's wind energy industry is on pace to surpass 10 GW of installed capacity by 2015, according to CanWEA.

Even without the interest from U.S. entities, CanWEA expects 1.5 GW of wind energy capacity to be installed this year, which would be an annual record.

EDPR has joined the likes of Pattern Energy, RES Americas and Invenergy, all of which have expanded into the Canadian market over the past few years.

Of course, Canada is no secret to Vestas, which has been operating in the country for 15 years, explains David Sword, director of external affairs at Vestas Canada.

"We are optimistic about the wind power opportunities in Canada and its stable policy environment - as are many developers," Sword says. "In fact, some of the meetings at CanWEA have more and new faces appearing all the time. The interest in the Canadian market is certainly at an all-time high."


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