43%

of Canada's total installed wind generation capacity operated by Calgary-based energy companies

Renewable Energy

Alberta is responding to the world’s growing demand for affordable, renewable and alternative energy and Calgary is poised to play a leadership role

Few, if any, other cities or regions in the world can match the breadth and depth of energy sector experience as Calgary. Calgary is well-equipped to support growth in the renewable energy sector growth through a combination of human, financial, and environmental resources. Calgary ranks first in head office concentration and is home to approximately one in seven of Canada’s major corporate headquarters and is now Western Canada’s head office capital This brings tremendous knowledge and decision marking power to the sector.

Click here to download the Calgary Renewables Energy PDF

Click here to download the Green Energy Economy Report 


What’s changed?

The drive towards sustainable growth in the economy, along with a new Climate Leadership Plan introduced by the Government of Alberta in November 2015 will create a wide range opportunities in Alberta’s renewable energy market.

Alberta’s government is serious about addressing climate change. Alberta’s plan features a phase out of coal-fired power by 2030 and replacing at least 50-75% of retired coal generation with renewable power, increasing the overall share of renewables to 30%.


Alberta's Renewable Energy Program 

As one of its first actions under the Climate Leadership Plan, the Government of Alberta chose the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) to develop and implement a renewable electricity incentive program to add additional renewable generation capacity into Alberta’s electricity system. On November 3, the Government of Alberta announced the details of the renewable energy program.

The highlights:

The first competition will see investors bidding to provide up to 400 megawatts of renewable electricity. The competition:

  • is open to all renewable technologies, with lowest cost qualified projects receiving support
  • will support an indexed renewable energy credit payment mechanism
  • requires supported projects to be operational by the end of 2019
  • offers 20 year contract terms consistent with international norms
  • requires projects to connect to existing transmission or distribution infrastructure to avoid indirect costs to electricity consumers

Full program details here

The Alberta government has also established an advisory panel to help launch energy efficiency and small-scale electricity generation programs in the province. In the coming months, the panel will provide its recommendations to government about the initial programs and opportunities Energy Efficiency Alberta could provide consumers, businesses and communities. These programs and services will be in place early in 2017.

The transition to a larger proportion of renewable energy in Alberta’s electricity market offers a phenomenal business opportunity. It's estimated $10.5 billion in new investment will flow into the provincial economy by 2030, creating at least 7,200 new jobs for Albertans as projects are built.

The province has proven potential for large scale investments in both wind and solar energy. For example, Alberta’s solar resource is 25% greater than Ontario’s and 30% greater than Germany’s, according to the Canadian Solar Industries Association. Alberta is Canada’s third largest producer of wind energy and that’s using only 1% of the estimated total wind energy potential in the province. For more information, please visit Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.


Alberta’s renewable resources

Electricity

As Canada’s only fully deregulated electricity market, Alberta offers extensive opportunities for renewable power generation and smart grid technology. Alberta’s competitive electricity market has resulted in over 9000 megawatts (MW) of new electricity generating capacity since 1998. 

There is currently 16,242 MW of installed generating capacity in Alberta.

As of August 2015, future development proposed by industry includes over 2,400 MW of renewable generation and over 7,700 MW of thermal and other generation.

Coal-fired plants account for almost 38 per cent, while natural gas accounts for almost 44 per cent of the market, as of August 2015. The remaining 13 per cent is generated through hydro, wind, biomass and waste heat. Critical as well to Alberta’s electricity industry is the use of cogeneration. The process of cogeneration is economically friendly and efficient as the input fuel (such as natural gas or biomass) generates electricity and steam/heat for industrial processes simultaneously.

Co-generation of electricity strongly contributes to Alberta’s energy supply with over 30%, or 4,600 MW, of total installed generation capacity as of December 2014. Co-generation is environmentally efficient as it substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The province has nine biomass co-generation facilities and four waste heat facilities.  

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is Canada’s first customer-focused exchange for electricity. As an independent system operator, the AESO leads the safe, reliable and economic operation and planning of Alberta’s interconnected power system. The AESO also facilitates Alberta’s competitive wholesale electricity market which, in 2014, had 196 participants and approximately $5 billion in annual energy transactions.

Alberta’s electricity system is owned and operated by a mix of investor-owned and municipally owned companies, of which many are based in Calgary. 

Wind Energy

The majority of the province’s wind energy companies are headquartered in downtown Calgary, learn more by visiting our company lists page.

Alberta has abundant wind energy resources. More than 35% of Alberta’s land base has a wind resource considered viable for electricity production and this represents approximately 150 GW of potential wind power capacity.

Wind energy provides significant economic development opportunities for Alberta. Every 150 MW of installed wind energy capacity represents $316 million in investment, 140 direct full-time equivalent construction jobs and 10 permanent direct jobs in operations. It also will provide approximately $17 million in lease payments to rural landowners and $31 million in property tax payments to rural municipalities over a 20 year period.

  • According to the Climate Leadership Plan, over one-third of Alberta’s land base has wind energy sources suitable for wind energy production.
  • Canada’s first commercial wind farm, today owned by TransAlta, was installed at Cowley Ridge in Southern Alberta in 1993. At 23 years old, the farm will be decommissioned in 2016
  • Alberta now ranks third in Canada with an installed wind energy capacity of 1,500 MW
  • The amount of electricity produced by the province’s wind farms is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power approximately 625,000 average sized homes for one year
  • Increasing wind energy use in Alberta also makes economic sense as wind energy is cheaper than any other form of electricity generation in Alberta today with the exception of natural gas

Wind by the numbers in Alberta (December 2015)
  • Number of Installations:                     38
  • Number of Wind Turbines:                 958
  • Total Installed Capacity (MW):          1,500
  • Average Turbine Capacity (MW):      1.57

Source: Canada Wind Energy Association of Canada (CANWEA)

Solar Energy

Alberta has the best solar resource in Canada. Calgary is the sunniest of Canada's large cities, enjoying an average of 2396 hours of bright sun each year, spread over 333 days.

Solar energy provides significant economic development opportunities for Alberta. Every 150 MW of installed solar energy capacity represents $310 million in investment, 1,875 direct full-time equivalent construction jobs and 45 permanent direct jobs in operations. It also will provide approximately $54 million in lease payments to site-hosts and $30 million in property tax payments to municipalities over a 20 year period.

  • According to the Climate Leadership Plan, in Alberta, the levelized cost of solar electricity is fast approaching that of other options. As solar generates during the day when electricity demand is highest and as it can be sited proximal to loads thus avoiding transmission and distribution costs, its value is greater than can be illustrated by a simple cost comparison.
  • As of June 1, 2015, there were 1208 micro-generation sites in Alberta, with a total capacity of over 9.2 megawatts. 1130 of the sites are solar. 
  • The cost of solar electricity has decreased by more than 50 percent in the last five years. In addition, a Deutsche Bank February 2015 solar energy report predicts that solar capital costs for residential and commercial sectors are expected to decrease up to 40 percent in the next five years.
  • Solar energy is incredibly flexible. Solar farms or rooftop applications are situated close to customers, allowing residents, businesses, farmers, communities and Aboriginal people to generate their own electricity and manage their own carbon footprint

Resources:

 

Bioenergy

Biomass includes agriculture and forestry fibre, by-products and other feedstocks such as livestock manure and municipal solid waste. The Province is investing in converting the 20 million tonnes of annual waste in potential biomass feedstock into higher value products. These new products increase economic returns from Alberta's natural resources.

Alberta is home to the world’s first waste-to-biofuels facility. The facility is owned and operated by Enerkem and is projected to convert 100,000 tonnes of solid municipal waste into biofuels and biochemicals each year.

In 2013, Lethbridge Biogas opened the largest anaerobic digester/co-generation facility in Canada. The $30 million facility currently has a generating capacity of 2.8 MW – enough to power 2,800 homes. It has the capacity to produce as much as 4.2 MW in the future with the addition of new generating units. 

  • Alberta has 20 million tonnes of annual waste in potential feedstock
  • Alberta is investing in converting the province's biomass resources beyond traditional commodities into higher value products. These new products increase economic returns from Alberta's natural resources. Biomass includes agriculture and forestry fibre, by-products and other feedstocks such as livestock manure and municipal solid waste
  • Alberta is also home to the world’s first waste-to-biofuels facility. The facility is owned and operated by Enerkem and converts solid municipal waste into biofuels and biochemicals

Geothermal

The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA) has determined that for Alberta, based on the geothermal resources available, as well as the current political and regulatory environment, co-produced fluids from Hot Sedimentary Aquifers (HSA) are the most realistic and near-term opportunity for the utilization of geothermal energy in the province.

Geothermal energy from co-produced fluids has three categorical sets of advantages for Alberta which are;

  • The retention of subsurface resource development (primarily oil and gas) livelihoods and expertise within the province;
  • Economic diversification throughout the province from new opportunities created by low cost renewable heat and power. These opportunities include but are not limited to micro-electricity generation, greenhouse agriculture, tourism and recreation;
  • The greenhouse gas emission reductions from developing sustainable baseload heat and power as well as from realtime methane leak detection on wells.
Potential for *Indicated Geothermal Resources in Alberta
Recovery Depth Generation Potential
5% 2,500m: 2,000 MW
3,500m: 8,800 MW
4,500m: 12,800 MW
5,500m: 6,400 MW
Total 30,000 MW
14% 2,500m: 5,700 MW
3,500m: 24,600 MW
4,500m: 36,000 MW
5,500m: 18,000 MW
Total 84,300 MW
20% 2,500m: 8,200 MW
3,500m: 35,200 MW
4,500m: 51,400 MW
5,500m: 25,700 MW
Total 120,500 MW
Installed Generation Capacity (all sources):   0 MW
   
 * According to the Canadian Geothermal Reporting Code    
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Need more information?

Megan Zimmerman

Business Development Manager, Technology & Renewable Energy

Cell Phone: (403) 803-1913

Office Phone: (403) 221-7830

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