Monday, 20 May 2019

Alberta’s Clean Energy Transition

alberta clean energy transition

With everyone getting on the energy conservation bandwagon, Alberta is making efforts as well, looking to replace coal energy with natural gas and renewables. These efforts were announced in 2015, but today, there are still questions as to who will provide the new power. There has been a lot of activity in Alberta in an effort to answer these questions and make this transition a smooth one.

The Energy Goal for Alberta

Today, coal accounts for 50 % of electricity generation in Alberta, the highest in any province. The goal is to phase out of coal energy by 2030, with 70% of energy being natural gas and the other 30% to be renewables. This is the main pillar of the Climate Leadership Action Plan.

Problems with Enacting the Plan

alberta energy goalThe Alberta government requested proposals for renewable projects, looking at 400 megawatts of electrical power. However, that accounts for only about 1.5 of total electricity generation in Alberta so many more renewable projects will have to be introduced for the province to reach that goal.

Other questions being asked include whether the operations for renewable energy will be turned over to those currently in charge of coal or whether they will be going to international players? Also, will smaller scale community renewable energy allow people control of their electricity usage and costs?

Bidding for Renewables

As we wait for these questions to be answered, there are several bidders hoping to take over the renewable projects. To better grasp how all this works, it is important to understand that Alberta’s power generation and transmission is not owned by a crown corporation but rather by private, for profit companies. Electric System Operator, the main agency that oversees the operations of these company’s electrical distribution in Alberta is managing the bidding process. The final decision will be made by Alberta’s minister of energy in January of 2018.

energy renewablesAlthough the bidders are unknown, it is likely that the bigger companies from the coal era who now have to transition to natural gas and renewables are among them. Those that are incorporating wind power may have a better chance at winning being that wind is the cheapest renewable in Canada just behind natural gas, although natural gas prices are likely to rise.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. In the meantime, we can only hope that the unknowns will be answered for the people of Alberta and they will emerge with the best solutions.