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The future of renewable energy is blowing in the wind

Powering the future
Powering the future

As 2010 comes to an end, Copenhagen has become the tipping point for the environment as a United Nations led summit deals with the issue of climate change. The debate over our limited options for sustainable development in a world with fewer resources rages. And developing renewable energy sources will only increase in importance. Hydro-Quebec's, the provincial hydroelectric giant, bold decision to branch out into the booming windpower industry in 2001, is proving to be a decision that was ahead of its time.

Two years ago, Quebec Premier Jean Charest approved 15 bids for 2,004 megawatts by 2015, at a cost of C$5.5-billion, the largest project of its kind in North America. 320,000 Quebec homes will be powered by windpower when the project is completed, all with minimal disruption to the environment.

A hotbed of this clean power source is Gaspé,Quebec, a town of 14,819 located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. It has been steadily positioning itself as a focal point for the development the Quebec windpower industry over the years. Following Hydro-Quebec’s decision to call for tenders totaling 1000 megawatts of green power; the region with some of the best wind speeds in Canada has taken the provincial lead in renewable energy development. The Technocentre Éolien economic development agency was created in 2000, with the primary objective of promoting the industry. The government has also set up an incentive program in the form of tax credits, offering to pay 40% of salaries for businesses in the windpower sector who set up shop in Gaspé. The region can point to two large-scale projects. The Groupement éolien Quebecois is working on adapting the wind technology developed by a European group to our frigid climate. And a trial area with three wind turbines in Rivière-au-Renard has been hooked up to the Hydro-Québec high voltage grid.

Canada’s installed wind power capacity should grow to ten times its size by 2015, to 14,100 megawatts, (Emerging Energy Research). It has been reported that the Canadian wind power market will see unprecedented growth over the next decade with Ontario and Quebec expected to account for 60 per cent of the country’s total market growth. Our future depends on our ability to harness nature's forces, not destroying what took so many years to create.