Market Snapshot: Wind turbines in Canada have increased in both size and generation capacity

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Release date: 2019-11-06

Wind power is the fastest growing non-hydro renewable energy technology in Canada. Over the past 10 years, installed wind capacity in Canada has grown more than six times. In 2018, Canada had over 13 000 MW of total installed wind capacity, compared to 2 300 MW in 2008.Footnote 1

The rise in wind capacity is supported by many factors such as lower costs, improved technology, and federal and provincial government policies. In particular, modern wind turbines are getting larger. In 2018, wind turbines installed in Canada had a nameplate capacity averaging 3.3 MW and rotor diameters averaging 114 metres, which is longer than the length of a Canadian Football League field. Wind turbines from the 1990s had an average capacity of 0.15 MW and rotor diameters of 23 metres; the length of a standard tennis court.

The amount of electricity that can be generated from wind depends on wind speed, air density, and swept area of the rotor. As the rotor diameter increases, so does the amount of area covered and the capacity to generate wind energy.Footnote 2

Figure 1. Wind turbine rotor diameters over time, 2006 – 2018, 1999 – 2004 and 1993

Source and Description

Source: CanWEA and various project websitesFootnote 3

Description: This grouped bar graph shows wind turbine rotor diameters over time, time periods shown are 2006 – 2018, 1999 – 2004 and 1993. For each time period, the smallest and largest turbine rotor diameters are represented by the first and second bars, respectively. Average rotor diameter for each time period is represented by the red circles.

Figure 2. Diagram of a wind turbine

Wind turbine
Source and Description

Source: Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Description: The above figure shows the different components of a wind turbine. Including hub height, rotor diameter and the swept area of the blades.

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