It is known without a doubt that our world is currently experiencing a green energy crisis. With much of Canada’s economy and power generation grounded in the oil industry, it is only a matter of time before we must find a suitable solution and a reliable energy source. Experts are claiming a solution to this problem could be the creation of offshore energy farms in the Maritimes. 

A large part of Canada’s economy relies on our oil expectation in Alberta. The Tar Sands oil hub is a major source of energy, and related employment. In fact, crude oil accounts for 47 per cent of Canada’s energy. But fossil fuels — non-renewable energy sources such as coal, coal products, natural gas, derived gas, crude oil, petroleum products and non-renewable waste — are not a sustainable energy source in our current world, with global decarbonization targets on the horizon. 

Onshore wind farms are an up and coming green energy source on the rise. Since 2005, Canada has seen a speedy increase in the operation and growth of onshore wind farms. As of 2014, Canada had 225 onshore wind farms in operation. This is a stark contrast to the eight windfarms in operation in 1998. As of 2022 there are approximately 336 wind farms across Canada and these account for 6.2 per cent of Canada’s energy

Scientists have discovered an improvement to these already beneficial energy sources. Creating a wind farm on the coast of an ocean or great lake results in higher energy consumption. This is simply because winds are higher speeds on water. This leads to more energy gain in a shorter amount of time.

No offshore wind farms have been created in Canada yet, but many proposals are in the works. With Canada having the world’s largest coastline, this be the break we have all been looking for.

The creation of these farms could lead to a big boost in the economy. Adding a new source to our energy systems will lead to job creation. According to one U.S. study, thousands of jobs could be created during the construction of the farms, and hundreds more to maintain the farms. 

However, there are still a few factors that are limiting the installation of wind farms, such as the start up costs. Even though each year prices are decreasing, offshore wind energy is the third most expensive energy production in Canada. 

There is also the issue that Canada currently has no regulation or systems in place for these wind farms. This is highlighted in a 2023 report entitled “Harnessing Offshore Wind in Canada: The Regulatory Landscape for Offshore Wind Development and Lessons Learned from the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United States.” 

The report identifies relevant Canadian legislation, regulations, and decision-makers and makes suggestions to improve Canada’s regime. The proposed policy improvements relate to matters of environmental and impact assessments, seabed acquisition and licensing, as well as the administrative processes for granting required permits and consents. It calls for more collaboration at the provincial and federal level to help solve these challenges.

Could offshore wind farms be the savior to the energy crisis? Only time will tell.

Aalya McGugan is an environmental studies major at Carleton University.

Featured image credit: Natural Resources Canada.

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