Alberta, the Canadian province that is home to some of the world’s largest oil sands resources, has set out plans to add 5 GW of clean energy to its electricity system by 2030.
As part of the target to procure 30% of its electricity from renewables – roughly double the current proportion – it has announced a competitive tender for 400 MW of capacity that will take place early in 2017, with the winners announced this time next year.
Contracts similar to the UK’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) will be awarded, supporting prices if they fall below a certain threshold. The first projects should be producing power by 2019.
Alberta will also impose a carbon tax on all fossil fuels from the beginning of next year, with the funds helping to subsidise renewable energy projects.
“We are going to take the price on pollution that is being charged, in particular, to coal-fired electricity, and recycle that back into new renewable energy opportunities,” said Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips.
The province says that the renewable energy programme will create more than 7,000 jobs and attract at least C$10.5 billion (US$7.9 billion) in investment. By 2030, Alberta’s NDP government also intends to phase out coal-fired electricity generation, which currently provides around 50% of the province’s share of generation by fuel, and has capped emissions from the oil sands sector in an attempt to change perceptions of the region as one of the world’s biggest polluters.
As of June 2016, 9% of the province’s installed generating capacity was wind, 6% hydro and 3% biomass.
Environmental groups have called on the provincial government to turn the clean energy target into law in order to enhance investor certainty and cut costs.
“This process will be competitive and transparent and will provide renewable electricity we need at the lowest possible price,” said Minister for Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd. “The programme will also complement the coal phase-out to ensure system reliability is maintained at all times.”
Mary Moran, president and CEO of non-profit organisation Calgary Economic Development, added: “As investment in renewable energy in Canada is growing rapidly, Alberta has been largely on the sidelines in this key part of the future energy supply, so we are pleased to see policy that provides the long-term certainty and stability that encourages global and local companies to invest.”