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Economic Spin-offs

Rapid growth of the wind energy industry throughout the world has helped create a dynamic sector in which Québec has an opportunity to position itself quickly. From an economic standpoint, wind energy:

  • helps create new economic activities;
  • consolidates existing jobs;
  • creates new jobs;
  • leads to the emergence of new firms in the wind energy development sector;
  • plays a role in developing expertise and in the emergence of Québec leaders in the design, financing, construction and management of wind farms;
  • promotes investments in research and development.

Maximizing spin-offs

The three calls for bids included content-related requirements for the Gaspésie region, the Matane RCM and Québec as a whole:

  • First call for bids for 1,000 MW, launched in 2003: At least 40% to 60% of the overall cost of the project had to be spent in the Gaspésie region and Matane RCM, depending on the commissioning date. The wind farms had to be located in Gaspésie.
  • Second and third calls for bids (2,000 MW and 500 MW): At least 30% of the cost of the wind turbines had to be spent in the Gaspésie and Îles-de-la-Madeleine region and in the Matane RCM, and 60 % of the overall cost of a wind energy project had to be spent in Québec.

By imposing this measure, the Government’s aim was to maximize local economic spin-offs in the form of jobs and manufacturing investments. The content requirements have been instrumental in the creation of turbine component factories in Gaspésie and in the Matane RCM, and have enabled many other companies and training programs to flourish.

The first call for bids for 1,000 MW enabled two villages to welcome new industries, with production beginning in early 2006. Gaspé welcomed a rotor blade manufacturing plant, and three new factories were built in Matane: one turbine tower manufacturing plant, one turbine assembly plant and one nacelle cover manufacturing plant.

As for the second call for bids, the local and regional content requirements prescribed by the Government helped consolidate the industrial base that had developed following the first call for bids. In addition, two major German manufacturers, Enercon and REPower, built factories in Québec to meet the regional content requirements.

Activity Sectors Total Jobs in Québec
Manufacturing plants 782 jobs
Wind farm construction and maintenance 2,990 jobs

Source: MERN survey of companies, September 2012

The investments generated by the development of the wind energy industry are estimated at several billion dollars:

  • OTC contracts: These contracts were signed between 1995 and 2003, and have generated investments of roughly $425 million.
  • First call for bids for 1,000 MW, launched in 2003: This call for bids is expected to generate investments of roughly $1.8 billion (including work on the transmission system).
  • Second call for bids for 2,000 MW, launched in 2005: This call for bids is expected to generate investments estimated at $5.5 billion including work on the transmission system).
  • Third call for bids for 500 MW, launched in 2009: This call for bids is expected to generate estimated investments of $990 million (including work on the transmission system).

A true partnership

The local, regional and Aboriginal communities that so wish may participate financially in the creation of a wind farm. By forming a true partnership with the bidders, they can share in the profits from the sale of the electricity produced by the farm.

To help communities that wish to undertake their own wind farm project, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, in collaboration with the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation, offers a financial analysis model and a guide that can be used by the communities to assess wind energy production costs for large wind farms ranging from 50 MW to 150 MW, or smaller farms ranging from 10 to 25 MW.

A community that is not a partner in a wind farm may sometimes receive voluntary contributions from a bidder. For example, Cartier Wind Energy signed a $2.9 million agreement with the municipalities of Baie-des-Sables and Métis-sur-Mer. The amount is divided according to the installed power in the municipalities’ territories over the wind farm’s 20-year operating period The agreement also provides for the creation of a committee to monitor local economic spin-offs during construction and operation of the wind farm.

Landowners may also rent part of their land to wind farm bidders, and obtain yearly payments in exchange.

hese payments can amount to several thousand dollars for a single wind turbine. The land is leased to a producer, and the producer is responsible for installing and managing the wind farm. Rural communities are well-placed to contribute to the development of wind energy. Land owned by farmers can be used to produce wind energy without hindering arable or cattle operations, thereby providing the farmers with an additional source of income.