Well-designed, efficient large-scale wind farms benefit from several economies of scale

  • Ensure adequate flow of wind available to all Wind Turbines
  • Increase array efficiency leading to optimized power generation
  • Minimize power transmission line losses
  • Include 24-hour on-site monitoring & control
  • Increase Return on Investment

It's become cliché to say that North Americans are addicted to oil. It's an expensive habit, too. The upshot, however, has been the explosion of interest in renewable energy sources. Last year, investors poured a record $71 billion into the alternative energy space. And billions more funnel in every day.

But with so many possibilities - hydropower, wind power, solar power, geothermal, biofuel, clean coal technology - investors are forced to pick which alternative energy source will distinguish itself as the most viable replacement for oil.

That is, until you realize the shooter (in this case Wall Street) is rolling a pair of "loaded" dice. In recent months, heavy hitters like The Blackstone Group, General Electric and T. Boone Pickens have stealthily invested billions into a single renewable energy source. JP Morgan Chase revealed that it's holding a $1 billion stake in the very same investment.

Even better, in the next five years, the governments in the United States, China and Europe will invest a minimum of $150 billion into the same alternative, according to CLSA Research.

And, unlike oil, there's no possibility of it running out. So let's take a closer look at the odds-on favorite to win the alternative energy derby.

And the Winner is...

Wind Power

Wind. It's clean (wind power generates absolutely no greenhouse gases). It's renewable. And it involves no production decline curve. Hence, 30 years from now we won't be worrying about "Peak Wind" theories coming to fruition.

It also can't be hoarded by power hungry cartels. In fact, enough of it exists to satisfy global demand seven times over, according to a Stanford University study. North Dakota alone has enough of it to meet 25% of U.S. demand.

But perhaps most importantly, it's finally coming of age. Just consider:

  • From 2000 to 2007, the size of the wind power industry increased fivefold.
  • Last year, records were shattered with $36 billion in total global wind investments with the United States leading the way with $9 billion.
  • In the next 10 years, the wind industry is expected to quadruple in size.

Hands down, wind is the fastest growing source of power. But can such growth continue?

The Department of Energy and countless other studies and industry experts say it will. But are they being realistic? Absolutely - and here's why……

Wind Power Makes Economic Sense

First and foremost, wind power makes economic sense. If the price of oil drops to $50 a barrel, the economics still work; even without government subsidies.

You see, wind can be used to generate electricity for 6 to 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

For comparison's sake, the cost of nuclear power runs about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour. Coal now costs north of 10 cents (without factoring in carbon capture and storage). And gas-fired power costs approximately 12 cents.

Keep in mind, too, that just a few years ago, wind costs rested north of 15 to 20 cents. But today, costs are low enough in some markets to compete with conventional power generation methods. And future advancements will make wind power even cheaper.

Look no further than Denmark. It already generates 20% of its total electrical output from wind. And Spain, Portugal and Germany boast similarly impressive penetration rates of roughly 12%, 10% and 7%, respectively.

The timing couldn't be more perfect, either. While wind energy costs are dropping, costs for competing technologies – coal, nuclear and gas - are headed in the opposite direction.

Opportunity in Canada

The Kyoto Accord signed by Canada requires that the Federal Government mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to be below 1990 levels. Since 1990 Canada’s C02 emissions have increased by 20%! Ontario’s policy to close coal fired generating plants by 2015 replacing this power with wind will reduce C02 emissions into the atmosphere by 40%. The first closing occurred in Mississauga, June 2005

Canada, with its size and one of the best wind resources in the world has lagged behind until now. The Federal Government has expanded its ecoENERGY Grant of $0.01 / KWh of production to 4,000 MW.

Ontario, who was behind Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec is catching up to offset being out of power at peak periods when it is forced to buy electricity at $0.14 to $0.22 per KWh from NY, Michigan and Quebec.

In October 2008, Canada’s largest wind farm, the Melancthon Eco Power Centre near Shelburne, Ontario came on line with 133 turbines, and since that time 800 MW of projects have come on line and the Ontario Minister of Energy, Hon. George Smitherman, has directed the Ontario Power Authority to revise its business plan to procure MORE that the originally authorized 2,000 MW of renewable wind energy by 2015.

In a recent announcement Hon. Smitherman indicated that through the new Green Energy Act, to be introduced in the first quarter of 2009, that the Province was moving toward more rapid deployment by removing regulatory barriers and replacing the RFP process with a “Feed-in Tariff”, the same model that has created 72,000 new wind industry jobs in Germany since 1995.

Canada only had 684 MW in operation in 2005. As of Dec 12, 2008 Canada has 1,770 MW of wind energy production, plus 2,000 MW in Quebec, 1,500 MW in Ontario, and 170 MW in British Columbia under construction. With a CanWEA goal of 10,000 MW by 2015, the industry will offset lost auto manufacturing jobs by employing 11,000 people.