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Renewable Energy Update

The Government of Alberta set a firm target in 2016 that 30 per cent of electricity used in Alberta will come from renewable sources such as wind, hydro and solar by 2030. What has already taken place in the transition to renewables, and what is still to come?

Solar power takes advantage of an enormous clean power source- the sun. Southern Alberta has the greatest solar potential in Canada, with skies that are usually sunny and snowfall that is usually light. Its photovoltaic potential is similar to Sydney, Australia and far higher than Germany where more solar is produced than anywhere else in the world. A new solar array near Brooks is tapping into that potential on a 30 hectare site capable of producing enough electricity for 3000 homes. More projects will follow.  

Wind power is also growing. An auction was held on December 13, 2017 where private companies submitted bids for new wind construction projects. Three companies were chosen to construct four wind farms, due to become operational in 2019. Together, they will have the electrical capacity to power 255,000 homes.

An often overlooked source of clean energy is hydropower. According to the Canadian Hydropower Association, Alberta has huge untapped hydro potential (https://canadahydro.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/CHA-map-Capacity-Potential-2015-v6.pdf ). The Alberta Government mentions hydro in its list of potential renewable power sources, but as yet has not announced any new projects. Hydro presents both advantages and challenges. On the plus side are low operating costs, negligible emissions, long lifespan and reliable power. The downside is high construction cost and possible negative environmental effects of reservoirs.

In 2018 and beyond, electricity production from fossil fuels, especially natural gas will continue. The Alberta Government has stated its intention to allow coal units to convert to natural gas where it is economically viable (Alberta Government, https://www.alberta.ca/climate-coal-electricity.aspx ).

While Alberta brings more power from renewable sources onto the grid, the role of Battle River Power Coop remains constant. We continue to provide information to our members and to distribute safe, reliable power.

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