Windsor, Ont., Canada – Wind turbines are generating electricity for Canada’s economy but wind power is facing an uncertain future as the country continues to cool off.
The province of Ontario announced Thursday it will shut down production at its wind farms until the country cools off, effectively freezing them indefinitely.
Wind Energy Ontario (WEO) said it had received more than 200 applications for wind farm closures, and the number is expected to rise as the heat wave worsens.
WEO spokeswoman Susan Bouchard said Ontario’s moratorium has allowed it to continue production at a few locations, such as at the Wind Turbine and Gas Company site, but it has not had a chance to process any applications for further closures.
Bouchard says that while Ontario will not shut down the province’s wind industry outright, the province will continue to work with other countries and industry partners to find a solution to ensure the wind is not lost to the grid.
Ontario has been trying to reduce emissions since 2015, when a large wind farm blew out in a storm that dumped up to 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Earlier this year, the government of Ontario, which owns the majority of the province, announced that it would phase out coal-fired generation by 2040.
But in June, the Ontario government announced it would shut down coal-burning plants and replace them with natural gas to meet greenhouse gas targets.
As the world is cooling off, many countries are also considering whether to follow Ontario’s lead, such the UK and Germany, which have both cut coal and pledged to reduce their carbon emissions.
Canada is not the only country with plans to shut off its wind energy sector.
The UK announced in July that it is shutting down its generation by 2020.
The U.S. has also announced it is cutting production.
There is no national limit on the amount of electricity that can be produced by wind turbines.
While Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to shut wind turbines down, the state of Michigan, home to several wind farms, is considering closing them as well.
“We’re hoping to get a wind farm up and running in Michigan by the end of next year,” said Bouchards spokesman, Mike McLeod.
McLeod said that while the province has a limited number of wind farms in operation, there is a need to create an environment where wind turbines can generate electricity for the community, including the potential for people to become involved in the business of electricity generation.
Although the province said it has received more applications for the shutdown, McLeod said it will only shut down turbines when temperatures drop below 20 C and when they are not being used as energy sources.
At that point, the turbines will be off and the plants will be taken down and replaced with natural-gas-fired plants.
According to the WEO website, Ontario generates about 15 percent of the country’s electricity from wind turbines and has one of the lowest carbon emissions per capita of any jurisdiction in the world.
We’re going to have to continue to innovate to get to where we want to be in terms of the carbon footprint of the energy sector, but we have the technology and we have a commitment to continue that, McEntelews spokesman said.
In September, the U.K. said it would close all its wind power generation by the year 2020.