Falling costs for solar power generation are beginning to allow for major investment, and governments want in on the action
SASKATCHEWAN PREMIER BRAD WALL SAYS
that by 2030 the province will generate half of its power from renewable energy. It’s no small claim. But the province is already halfway there. Already Saskatchewan produces 25 percent of its power from renewable sources, particularly wind and hydro from the Saskatchewan River system.
The government’s power company, Saskpower, is eyeing solar, wind and geothermal energy as the main energy sources to raise its renewable capacity by another 25 percent. And in addition to utility scale wind and solar farms, Saskatchewan is targeting small solar projects on homes. “We want it to be greater and we need it to be greater because, as you know, we have high emissions per capita in this province,” Wall said when he announced the plan last year. The rapid improvement of renewable energy technologies has made this shift possible—a phenomenon that has continued to catch the attention of energy producers and governments alike. Indeed, compared to wind power generation, the costs and capabilities of solar have leapt ahead in recent years.
Alberta is similarly launching a support program for utility companies this fall, and plans to quickly shift away from its dependence on coal-fired generation. The nature of Alberta’s deregulated power market means that a different kind of incentive might be required to spur investment as compared to Saskatchewan. But on the bright side, both provinces are promising markets for solar, due to the long hours of sun they enjoy. Nevertheless, shifting to solar powered electricity still requires a hefty sum of cash—as much as $50 billion over the next 14 years, according to a Siemens estimate.