The wind in Ontario’s green energy economy sails: Powering the K2 Wind Project

By: 
Molly Shaw

The Canadian wind-energy market is one of the fastest growing sectors of the country’s green energy economy. According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (http://canwea.ca), Canada is now the ninth largest producer of wind energy in the world with current installed capacity at roughly 7,800 MW.

Siemens Canada, a multibillion-dollar leader in the energy, health care and infrastructure solutions fields, employing more than 4,500 Canadians, is a major contributor in this wind power growth. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, the company currently holds a lead position in the Ontario market with more than 1 GW of installed capacity and that footprint is growing as the energy giant fills a tall order for the K2 Wind Power Project (K2).

Making history

The 270 MW K2 project, proposed for development in the township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW), is one of southwestern Ontario’s promising renewable facilities. Adjacent to Capital Power’s 22-turbine Kingsbridge 1 Wind Operation, which has been operational since 2006, K2 will feature 140 turbines on property leased from approximately 90 landowners in ACW.

The project is the result of a joint venture between Samsung Renewable Energy, Capital Power and Pattern Energy. In fall 2011, K2’s project team signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the Ontario Power Authority, guaranteeing a buyer for the clean wind energy produced at the site.

Siemens Canada has been selected to supply, install and commission the turbines; one of the largest orders in Ontario’s wind power history. The SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines will be located in Goderich, Ont., and along with the South Kent Wind project in Chatham-Kent, the 270 MW development will be the largest wind farm in Ontario, generating clean power for approximately 100,000 homes.

A big boost for the local economy

K2 is getting more than 1,000 workers across Ontario on board in the manufacturing and installation of the turbines, as well as site construction and ongoing maintenance. Once fully operational, K2 is projected to generate 18 to 24 full-time positions and $15 million of annual income. Construction is currently underway with a launch date of spring 2015.

In late 2013, K2 Wind Ontario selected the AMEC-Black and McDonald joint venture (ABMD) to act as its prime contractor for the project. According to K2’s spring 2014 newsletter (http://www.k2wind.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014_K2Wind_Newsletter_Spring.pdf), “ABMD will execute the majority of the construction of the Project including access roads, installation of collector lines and transmission lines, the turbine foundations and the installation of the 140 project turbines.”

K2 also notes, “Turbine installation will take place throughout the summer and fall, and preparations for operating the turbines [commissioning] will continue into 2015. Our target for the start of commercial operation is mid-2015.”

Siemens Canada is responsible for manufacturing all 420 49-metre blades at its Tillsonburg-facility. The 140 turbine towers will also be manufactured locally, at CS Wind’s facility in Windsor, using Ontario-made steel.

The company’s wind turbine Service and Maintenance Distribution Centre in Chatham, Ont., will continue to support the project post completion, storing commonly used wind turbine parts and serving as a training centre to foster advance technical and safety skills amongst wind technicians.

“Canada is one of the most important wind markets in North America,” said Mark Albenze, chief executive for Siemens Energy Wind Power, in a statement. “We are proud to once again collaborate with the leading players in this market to bring renewable, clean and reliable energy to the homes and businesses of Canadian residents.”

K2 is also a strong proponent of the local community, creating a Community Benefits Fund Agreement with ACW to deliver more than $15 million in funding for community initiatives over the next two decades. Additionally, K2 will lease land from 90 local farm families, who will collectively receive an estimated $3.2 million in annual revenue through land lease agreements.

Alongside the rest of the world, as Canada confronts environmental and economic challenges, K2 promises to deliver clean, renewable and reliable energy that will power 100,000 Ontario homes as well as generate $6 to $7 million in direct spending into the local economy each year of operation. The project is putting Ontario’s commitment to a sustainable future front and center and there’s certainly wind in the green-energy economy sails as the province makes way for one of the largest wind power developments in its history.