Star­land weighs in on re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Those in­ter­ested in re­new­able mi­cro gen­er­a­tion are still go­ing to have to wait un­til next year for de­tails on these pro­grams.

This comes after the province an­nounced it has a firm tar­get on for re­new­able elec­tric­ity. The province an­nounced a tar­get of 30 per cent of elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tion in the province to be cre­ated from re­new­able en­ergy by the year 2030. To do this they are aim­ing to add 5,000 mega

watts of re­new­able ca­pac­ity. Star­land County has been in the fore­front of so­lar gen­er­a­tion, in par­tic­u­lar farm so­lar in­stal­la­tions. CAO of Star­land County, Ross Rawlusyk, says this an­nounce­ment cov­ers large-scale projects.

“The con­cerns that I would have on the re­new­able elec­tric­ity pro­gram, is they have to be 5 megawatts or greater, “he said. “The prob­lem with that level of de­vel­op­ment is it will re­strict

where you can put them to a de­gree. You need to put them in a place where you can ac­cess the grid, and the grid's in­fra­struc­ture is ca­pa­ble of han­dling the power. It won't be a pos­i­tive thing for more sparsely pop­u­lated ru­ral lo­ca­tions.”

He said they have been look­ing at a 2-megawatt in­stal­la­tion and the in­fra­struc­ture is a lim­it­ing fac­tor.

The good thing about it for Star­land, he says, is it may make wind en­ergy projects in Star­land more vi­able. Right now, there are two wind projects in Star­land that are work­ing their way through the ap­proval process; one by BluEarth Re­new­ables and one by Sun­cor.

On the mi­cro gen­er­a­tion end, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease, the gov­ern­ment is en­gag­ing stake­hold­ers on ways to make it eas­ier for Al­ber­tans and com­mu­ni­ties to cre­ate their own re­new­able en­ergy. The Al­berta En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency ad­vi­sory panel, led by Dr. Davis Wheeler, is con­sult­ing with Al­ber­tans to de­velop rec­om­men­da­tions to do small-scale gen­er­a­tion pro­grams.

He says the County is hop­ing to make sub­mis­sions to the En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency Ad­vi­sory Panel.

“We are of the view that so­lar is com­ing very close on the level of ef­fi­ciency and cost as tra­di­tional power, it is just that tra­di­tional power gets some bonuses that so­lar doesn't get. As long as the play­ing field is level I think we can be pretty com­pet­i­tive,” he said. "We need ac­cess to the green­house gas cred­its that they haven't typ­i­cally al­lowed small de­vel­op­ment to ben­e­fits from. I would ar­gue that a fair pric­ing process would be ben­e­fi­cial to al­ter­na­tive en­ergy too.”

He ex­plains that dur­ing peak times of the day, a so­lar in­stal­la­tion con­tribut­ing to the grid will earn in the area of 4 cents per kilo­watt hour, while the real true mar­ket value is in the area of 15 cents per kilo­watt hour.

"If they cor­rect that process, that will go a long way to iden­ti­fy­ing what is com­pet­i­tive,” he said. Right now, they are in a hold­ing pat­tern. “Now un­til Jan­uary of 2017, very lit­tle is go­ing to be hap­pen­ing on the en­ergy front be­cause of the on­go­ing un­cer­tainly of where things are,” he said.

We are of the view that so­lar is com­ing very close on the level of ef­fi­ciency and cost as tra­di­tional power, it is just that tra­di­tional power gets some bonuses that so­lar doesn’t get. As long as the play­ing field is level I think we can be pretty com­pet­i­tive.” Ross Rawlusyk Star­land CAO

file­photo

Star­land County is wait­ing for more de­tails on re­new­able mi­cro gen­er­a­tion reg­u­la­tions ex­pected early in 2017. The County has un­der­taken a suc­cess­ful on-farm so­lar pro­gram with in­stal­la­tion such as this one on the Rau­gust farm.

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