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article imageAlberta could lead Canada in wind and solar power by 2025

By Karen Graham     Sep 21, 2020 in Business
Growth in Alberta's renewable energy sector should continue its upward trend, experts say, with one forecast anticipating a surge of projects that could see the province becoming the Canadian leader in utility-scale wind and solar capacity by 2025.
Rystad Energy, based in Oslo, Norway, tracks utility-scale wind and solar assets with at least one MWac (megawatt alternating current) in capacity.
In Rystad's latest forecast, 83 percent of the combined utility-scale wind and solar capacity built in Canada over the next five years will be in Alberta. This does not include smaller renewable development, such as rooftop solar, according to CBC Canada.
Rystad analyst Felix Tan, during an interview from New York said that "Alberta is sort of playing catch up." With the growth that's expected, Alberta could have the largest combined total of utility-scale wind and solar capacity in the country, overtaking Ontario. "We have seen a lot of capacity build out over the past two, three, four years in places like Ontario, in B.C. and Quebec."
Based on Rystad's data, current renewable capacity in Alberta amounts to 0.1 gigawatt (GW) of solar power and 1.8 GW of wind power. By 2025, Rystad 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.
Huron Wind is the first commercial wind farm in Ontario. It is located in the village of Inverhuron ...
Huron Wind is the first commercial wind farm in Ontario. It is located in the village of Inverhuron, Ontario near Tiverton.
Jok2000 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Tan cites a number of reasons for the favorable forecast - including that the province has "committed to stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2030." This "opens the door" to wind and solar playing a much bigger role in power generation.
Another positive for the province is the abundance of sunshine and wide open prairies. Tan also points out the province's deregulated electricity market creates a favourable environment for solar and wind development. Unlike Quebec, British Columbia, and other Canadian provinces, Alberta’s electricity market isn’t dominated by a large public-owned entity.
Blake Shaffer, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, is not quite as optimistic as Rystad on Alberta's projected growth in renewables, although he agrees with the forecast's direction.
"We're going to continue to add renewables in this province," said Shaffer, whose work focuses on electricity markets, climate policy and energy transitions.
"Whether or not we surpass Ontario in that time frame, I can't say definitively right now. But certainly it's going to grow. And it's simply a function that the cost of building renewables has just gotten so cheap." And like Tan, Shaffer also sees the competitive benefit of a deregulated electricity market.
More about Alberta Canada, wind and solar, renewables sector, utilityscale wind and solar, Ontario
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