Sunny Ways

Falling costs for so­lar power gen­er­a­tion are be­gin­ning to al­low for ma­jor in­vest­ment, and gov­ern­ments want in on the ac­tion

Alberta Oil - - FREEZE FRAME -

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.

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