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.
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%.
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 program (REP) to add additional renewable generation capacity into Alberta’s electricity system. REP 1 results were announced in December 2018. This is the lowest renewable power prices seen in Canada at $37/MWh.
As of February 2018, there are two more REP procurement auctions available.
The Alberta government has also established Energy Efficiency Alberta to administer multiple efficiency programs for Alberta residents and businesses. Program details can be found here.
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 7,000 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
|Potential for *Indicated Geothermal Resources in Alberta|
|Installed Generation Capacity (all sources):||0 MW|
|* According to the Canadian Geothermal Reporting Code|
|Alberta Innovators Ecosystem||The Climate Change and Emissions Management|
|Wind Facts||Environmental Services Association of Alberta|
|Natural Resources Canada||Western Canada Biodiesel Association|
|Alberta Innovates||Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANWEA)|
|Alberta Council of Technologies||Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance|
|Alberta Renewable Energy Alliance||Sustainable Development Technology Canada|
|Solar Energy Society of Alberta||Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA)|
|Grant & Contribution Programs - Technology Companies|