Alberta could lead Canada in wind and solar power by 2025, expert says

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Growth in Alberta’s renewable energy sector is expected to continue its upward trend, experts say, with a forecast calling for an increase in projects that could see the province become Canada’s leader in wind and solar capacity at the scale of public services from 2025.Rystad Energy tracks utility scale wind and solar assets with a capacity of at least one MWac (megawatt of alternating current). It forecasts that 83 percent of the combined utility-scale wind and solar capacity built in Canada over the next five years will be in Alberta. This would not include small renewable developments such as solar power on residential rooftops.

With the growth expected, Rystad analyst Felix Tan expects Alberta to have the largest combined total of utility-scale wind and solar capacity in the country by the middle of the decade, exceeding Ontario.

“Alberta is kind of catching up,” Tan said in an interview from New York.

“We’ve seen a lot of capacity building over the past two, three, four years in places like Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. ”

According to data tracked by Rystad, Alberta’s current renewable capacity includes 0.1 gigawatt (GW) of solar power and 1.8 GW of wind power. By 2025, he expects this to reach 1.8 GW of solar power and 6.5 GW of wind power.

Rystad projects that Ontario will have approximately 1.8 GW solar and 5.8 GW wind in 2025.

Tan said Alberta’s commitment to stop burning coal for electricity by 2030 “opens the door” for wind and solar power to play a bigger role.

In this file photo, a solar field can be seen located directly beside the Trans-Canada Highway near Brooks, Alta. Alberta is said to have one of the best sunshine in the country for solar electricity. (Kyle Bakx / CBC)

He also said that the province’s deregulated electricity market creates a favorable environment for the development of solar and wind power.

The market allows buying companies to contract directly with wind and solar generators – something a growing number of companies should be looking for as part of their plans to green their operations.

‘It will grow’

Blake Shaffer, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, doesn’t anticipate as much growth as the Rystad projects, but he agrees with the direction of the forecast.

“We will continue to add renewables to this province,” said Shaffer, whose work focuses on electricity markets, climate policy and energy transitions.

“Whether or not we are surpassing Ontario in that time frame, I can’t say for sure at this time. But it will definitely increase. And it’s just a feature that the cost of building renewables has become so cheap.

Like Tan, he also sees the advantage of the competitive structure of the electricity market in Alberta.

Shaffer said Texas, a place with a long history in oil and gas, has become a growth center for renewables in the United States. He believes Alberta will also become a leader in the growth of renewable energy.

“It’s not because of an intrinsic love for renewables,” he said.

“It’s just that we have the best resource in terms of what we call the capacity factor – so the frequency at which the wind blows here is high, which makes the unit cost low. ”

He said that Alberta’s solar resources came right after Saskatchewan.

Some Alberta projects

A number of multi-million dollar wind and solar projects are planned in Alberta over the next few years.

Edmonton International Airport and Alpin Sun ad This summer, they’re working on a deal that will see the company develop Airport City Solar, a 254-hectare solar farm on the west side of the airport grounds.

The massive Travers Solar Project in Vulcan County is also in preparation.

The $ 750 million project, led by Greengate Power of Calgary, will consist of 1.5 million solar panels and produce approximately 800 million kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year, enough to power more than 100,000 homes.

CEO Dan Balaban said if things go as planned, they hope to start construction later this year.

“It will be by far the biggest [solar project] in Canada, “he said.” And I think there is definitely potential for more mega renewable energy projects in this country and in this province over time.

Balaban said the energy discussion should not be framed like oil and gas versus renewables.

“I think we should develop our oil and gas resources and our renewable energy resources,” he said. “We have a phenomenal opportunity in this province if we can all work together. “

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