I have a story in today’s Toronto Star about Vestas and why the world’s largest maker of wind turbines is seriously looking at setting up shop in Ontario. Vestas already has a large manufacturing footprint in Colorado, but its interest in southern Ontario has more to do with the potential North American market for offshore wind. So why Ontario? Because offshore wind in the Great Lakes provides a huge opportunity, and Ontario happens to have the most freshwater offshore real estate, as well as a developer, Trillium Power, that is well ahead of the pack with respect to project development. Also, Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America to have a feed-in-tariff for offshore wind — the province offers 19 cents per kilowatt-hour of offshore wind power. This makes it easier for Trillium, which has four projects totalling 3,700 megawatts in the pipeline, to pioneer offshore development in the Great Lakes.
Some signs that Vestas wants to come to Ontario? Last fall Vestas Offshore opened an office in Toronto that is serving as its North American headquarters for offshore wind sales. Last week company officials flew in to tour a number of potential sites in Hamilton, Niagara, Kingston and Belleville, among others, as possible sites for manufacturing facilities. The officials, according to sources, were also here to size up the local supply chain and supporting infrastructure. And this morning, Trillium announced that it has chosen Vestas as supplier of up to 740 offshore wind turbines for its four projects.
Laying roots in southern Ontario makes sense for Vestas, which is looking at long term growth. The feed-in-tariff program in Ontario provides certainty that demand will be there for both onshore and offshore projects, plus Ontario can serve as a great launchpad into the U.S. market, where states such as New York, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin also plan to develop in the Great Lakes. Of course, this is potential business on top of planned offshore projects on the east coast. Ontario simply makes more sense as a location for serving those markets.
If Vestas did commit to Ontario, it would be another major win for the province, which last month confirmed a $7 billion deal with a Korean consortium, led by Samsung, which plans to manufacture and develop 2,500 megawatts worth of wind and solar projects in the province.