The German economy is a global powerhouse. Germany, with only 1 percent of the world's population, is the world's second largest manufacturing exporter.

Germany is also a world leader in wind - two of the world's four largest wind turbine manufacturing companies in 2013 were German (Enercon and Siemens).

A major reason for this is that Germany, in the early days of the wind industry (the 1990's), set out to create policies which would encourage the ownership of wind turbines (and other renewables) by individuals and communities.  

The results of this policy are plain to see. Despite having a significantly poorer wind, solar and biomass resource than Saskatchewan, half the land area and 160X the population density, Germany in 2013 generated 23.4 percent of its electricity from renewables. Of the total 34 percent was wind, 29 percent was biomass and 19 percent was solar.

Not only that but in 2013 more than 50 percent of all Germany's installed renewable capacity was owned by individuals, farmers, municipalities or local utilities.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel at wind farm opening in 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at wind farm opening in 2011

 
 
Posted
AuthorJames Glennie
 
 

Nova Scotia has a history of wind development that provides useful lessons and insights.

In 2009 Nova Scotia, which was at the time getting more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal and more than 90 percent from fossil fuels, realized that the status quo could not be justified. Coal was dirty and increasingly expensive and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy realized that change was required.

So in 2009 a consulting team from Dalhousie University in Halifax, facilitated extensive, public, multidisciplinary consultations across the province through the summer and into the fall. The results of that extensive public consultation are summarized in an April 2010 document, 'The Renewable Electricity Plan - A Path to Good Jobs, Stable Prices and a Cleaner Environment'. 

Two noteworthy components of that plan are;

1. A major transition to renewably generated electricity - in fact from 10 percent in 2009, to 25 percent by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020.

2. The establishment of a community-based feed-in tariff to encourage a range of community-owned renewable electricity generation projects throughout the province.

Maybe a similarly broad-based, public consultation about the future of electricity in Saskatchewan would be useful before we embark on a major shift in our generation mix??


Colchester Cumberland Community Wind - Nova Scotia

Colchester Cumberland Community Wind - Nova Scotia

 
Posted
AuthorJames Glennie
 

As the fifth windiest state in the US and the second state in terms of electricity already sourced from wind energy (26 percent) South Dakota offers impressive potential.

It is also very relevant because it has a similar wind resource to Saskatchewan, is only 300 km. distant from our province in addition to which the land area and population density of the state is almost identical to the land area and population density of the southern half of Saskatchewan.

One ambitious developer, Dakota Plains Energy, wants to see the majority of that economic potential staying in South Dakota.

Dakota Plains announced in 2013 that it plans to build a community-owned wind farm (Dakota Power Community Wind - DPCW) of between 250 and 500 turbines at a cost of $1 to 2-billion. There are a number of large wind projects under consideration in the US - but what makes DPCW so unique is that the intent is for it to be entirely owned by South Dakotans.

The project aims to secure 65,000 to 75,000 acres of land and as of April 2014 had signed up 80 landowners with 22,000 acres. In mid June DPCW started raising $4-million of capital from local investors to pay for initial wind testing and permits.

DPCW is only possible because of a major transmission line, Rock Island Clean Line, which will take substantial amounts of wind energy from Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa to major load centres in Illinois. While Saskatchewan does not currently have such transmission opportunities - we do have a world class wind resource, lots of land, savvy farmers, a creative business community and engaged communities. With that the sky's the limit!

Wind turbines in South Dakota

 
 
Posted
AuthorJames Glennie