Article By Daniel McLean

Newfoundland and Labrador is windy as hell. Not just, “lord Jesus by’s, some gale blowin’ today,” but scientifically, unambiguously, really, windy.

If you take a visit to the Government of Canada’s publicly available wind atlas website, you can see a nice colourful map of the average wind speeds across our country. The lowest speeds are a relaxed blue, the highest an energetic red. There’s a region of good winds off the coast of BC, a bountiful reddish-orange chunk making up Hudson Bay, and a goldmine around the easternmost province. Ours.

The waters surrounding Newfoundland and the coast of Labrador are a red sea of high wind speed on the map, and as we all know, the wind on the ground isn’t half bad either. No real revelations here.

The oddity arises when the government’s wind atlas map is compared with the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s installed capacity map (also publicly available). Scanning the provinces in CANWEA’s map, Newfoundland & Labrador has the least installed capacity of wind turbines in the country. Windiest province. Least turbines. Interesting.

At 55 MW, our province has almost four times less installed wind energy capacity than the next ranked province. And which is that next province on the list? PEI, with an installed wind energy capacity of 204 MW. Prince Edward Island, population of 150,000. Newfoundland & Labrador, population of 530,000.

So, a province with a little more than a quarter of the population of ours has almost four times the wind power. The math is approximated and this isn’t a lesson in fractions, but you get the point: that factor of four should be the other way around. It doesn’t take an expert to come to that conclusion. Or a report. Or a review. It’s common sense.

Now, it’s overly simplistic to say “Okay let’s put up a bunch of wind turbines tomorrow and the province’s economy will be saved and everyone will be happy and never complain about how windy it is here ever again.” It’s also unfair to say that our province is entirely to blame. Europe is years ahead of all of North America when it comes to wind power, especially at sea.

The point here is that Newfoundland & Labrador has a golden opportunity to be a leader in Canada for this renewable resource. The technology is available, the installation and construction period is straightforward, and the environmental impact is benign – no sticking pipes in the seabed, no prehistoric sludge, no burning. Pretty much no nothing.

Like the rest of Canada and the world, our province will eventually have to transition to a clean carbon economy. Wind turbines could be the beacon of change for this province’s energy horizon. It’s always going to be windy as hell here, let’s start taking advantage of it.