Alberta currently has the third largest wind generating capacity of Canada's provinces, behind only Ontario and Quebec, with 1.1GW installed. Recent deals include Alstom's first foray into the Canadian market with a turbine supply deal for 414MW of projects in Alberta.
However, in response to a challenge by Alberta energy minister Ken Hughes for the renewable industry to propose policy solutions to help "green the grid", CANWEA has said that two key emissions policies need to be implemented to help the province realise the development of 5GW of "easily accessible wind resources".
The policies, outlined in CANWEA's report WindVision 2025: A Strategy For Alberta, published yesterday, are as follows:
- A clean electricity standard — to impose a maximum greenhouse gas emissions intensity level, measured in tonnes CO2e/MWh, on electricity sold by retailers in the province. The Alberta government would set this technology-neutral standard and retailers would seek contracts with developers of different sources of electricity generation in the market to ensure their supply portfolios met the target.
- An increase in carbon price — a second supplementary measure is an increase in the $15/tonne carbon price imposed on large emitters under Alberta's existing Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), something the province has already acknowledged it needs to do to encourage the investment choices and technology advances that will allow it to meet its climate change targets.
"Neither of these policy measures alone will totally address the challenges facing wind energy in the province, but they are very complementary," said CANWEA president Robert Hornung.
"A clean electricity standard will incentivise long-term contracts for electricity and help provide the long-term revenue certainty needed to finance new projects. An uplift in the carbon price will increase the value of greenhouse gas offsets produced by wind energy projects, providing an additional revenue stream that will improve project economics."
The report goes on to claim that if projects in Alberta were able to secure long-term contracts, an estimated 3,198MW of new wind capacity could be added to the province’s grid by 2025.
However, it remains to be seen what success these proposals will have: while a clean energy standard resembles similarly successful international programmes such as the UK renewables obligation, an increase in the carbon price in Alberta, which holds huge oil sands deposits in its north-east, would seem unlikely.