Alberta spends more on carbon storage than renewables

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The Alberta government should be matching the billions it plans to spend to help spur construction of the province's first large-scale carbon capture and storage projects with investments that would bring already proven renewable energy technologies onto its power grid, says a prominent sustainable energy think tank. "The government of Alberta has placed huge emphasis on carbon capture and storage and plans to spend C$2 billion to subsidise coal-fired power and oil sands companies to reduce their pollution," says Tim Weis of the Pembina Institute. "To responsibly meet future power demand in Alberta it would be very prudent to invest an equal or greater amount in renewable energy and efficiency technologies that don't produce this pollution in the first place." Weis is one of the authors of a report looking at how the province can shift its reliance on coal to cleaner generation. One scenario relies mainly on wind power, natural gas cogeneration and efficiency to meet all new load growth and stabilize greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by 2028, while a more aggressive option shows how Alberta's supply mix could go from 70% coal to 70% renewable energy and efficiency in 20 years. The analysis, says the report, refutes the provincial government's assertion that renewable energy "cannot match the importance" of clean fossil fuels in Alberta's energy future. The province issued a request for expressions of interest last July for a piece of its C$2 billion carbon capture and storage development fund and has since has invited 20 oil sands and electricity generating companies to submit full project proposals.

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