Industry Sees Alberta’s Energy Future in the Wind
Alberta’s government wants renewable sources to supply 30% of the province’s electricity needs—displacing a third of what is now produced from fossil fuels. While its low polling numbers might suggest Albertans lack confidence in the “cost and feasibility of the wide-scale introduction of renewables,” writes Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, they needn’t worry.
“Renewables like wind energy are a reliable and cost-effective means of generating power,” writes Hornung, also a board member of the Global Wind Energy Council. “In fact, wind energy has been the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada over the past five years.”
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“While wind energy in Canada got started in Alberta, and Alberta is currently the third-largest wind market in the country,” the province “has only scratched the surface of its wind energy potential,” the Canadian industry’s chief advocate argues.
Alberta’s Electric System Operator, which operates its grid, has identified wind and natural gas as “the two most affordable forms of new electricity generation,” Hornung notes. But “the fuel for wind energy is free,” and it “does not face the economic risk of rising costs in the commodity market, or the environmental costs of mining or extracting.”
“The days of relying on fossil fuels for a significant portion of electricity generation are coming to an end on a relatively aggressive timetable set by climate science,” Hornung asserts. “And a recently released study has shown that Alberta can reliably and cost-effectively integrate wind energy into the grid at levels greater than the 30% target set by the Alberta government.”
Research reported earlier this year reached a similar conclusion for Canada as a whole.