Ontario Sticks With Offshore Wind Ban

The government of Canada’s province of Ontario has extended the moratorium on offshore wind projects imposed in 2011, according to local media.

The province’s environment ministry said that after recently receiving results of two studies, one on the decommissioning requirements and the other on the above-water noise produced by offshore wind farms, it was decided that more research is needed on the environmental effects of the projects before the ban is lifted.

“The responsible choice is to keep the moratorium on offshore wind development in effect until all the potential impacts are fully understood,” the province’s environment ministry said in a statement.

“Freshwater wind is in the very early stages of development around the world. While these latest reports provide real value in understanding some of its challenges, they are but one of the many steps necessary to allow for all of the proper research.”

The province also said that it will keep an eye on the Icebreaker project in Lake Erie, Ohio, adding that this project is an excellent opportunity to better understand the impact of offshore wind projects on the Great Lakes.

Ontario decided to extend the moratorium despite a recent ruling by an international tribunal appointed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which set out that the government of Ontario is to pay CAD 28 million in damages and legal costs to the U.S. based Windstream Energy for its stalled 300MW wind project in Lake Ontario.

The tribunal ruled that the government of Ontario “on the whole did relatively little to address the scientific uncertainty surrounding offshore wind that it relied upon as the main publicly cited reason for the moratorium.”

The CAD 28 million award is the largest ever NAFTA damages and cost award against Canada.