Alberta heads for renewables target

Alberta should pass a law requiring that 10% of the Canadian province's electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2012, says a coalition of environmental and renewable energy organisations that includes the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). The group's demand is in response to the province's recently released "made-in-Alberta" climate change action plan, which pledges to increase the use of renewable and alternative energy by 3.5% by 2008.

Given Alberta's estimated 10,000 MW of renewables potential, the coalition contends that the 3.5% target could be substantially increased and limited to low impact green power rather than large scale hydro. The government's plan to supply 10% of its own power needs from green sources should also be boosted to 50%, the group told premier Ralph Klein. Along with net metering rules allowing consumers to offset their own generation against consumption, and a fairer municipal tax assessment process, the targets would attract investments of C$3 billion by 2010.

Although industry, business and the provinces, led by Alberta, have lined up against the federal government's plan to ratify the Kyoto Protocol this year, the battle over how to combat climate change, which has raged in the news media for weeks, has helped raise the profile of renewables as a way to clean up the country's energy act.

Alberta's 3.5% target is a significant departure for the province, which has long maintained that pure market forces should determine its energy supply. An industry coalition opposing Kyoto, led by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has also encouraged the promotion of renewables as part of a "made-in-Canada" approach to climate change. It wants government to "provide incentives for both generators and consumers of renewable energy" and to consider goals for increasing the use of renewables.

The federal government's Kyoto plan calls for 10% of new capacity to come from green sources. "This debate around Kyoto has actually created a lot of opportunity to get the wind message out to the public," says CanWEA's Andrew Pape-Salmon.

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