Alberta to Meet 50% of Government Electricity Demand with Solar
The Alberta government is laying plans to supply 50% of its annual electricity demand with solar energy, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips told the Canadian Solar Industries Association’s Solar West conference in Edmonton last week.
The decision could lead to the development of Western Canada’s first large-scale solar farm.
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“The Prairies have the best solar resources in Canada, and our government is committed to providing opportunities for the emerging solar industry to take advantage of this natural resource,” Phillips told conference participants.
The province “has issued a request for information (RFI) to provide advice on the potential cost and best approach for procuring solar power for half of government operations,” Solar Industry Magazine reports. “This will explore the opportunity to use solar energy to replace two existing green energy contracts that expire by the end of 2017.”
The government currently procures 250,000 MWh of green power per year, enough to supply 100% of the power for more than 1,500 publicly-owned buildings and sites. The two expiring contracts total 135,000 MWh. Shifting production “would result in 10 times the current solar energy production in Alberta,” the magazine notes.
“Not many people know that the Government of Alberta has been 100% renewable for a decade,” said CanSIA Policy and Market Development Director Patrick Bateman. “This initiative gave the wind energy industry the early leg-up they required to become the cost-competitive, clean option that they are for the province today. We expect that this new solar energy initiative will not only help our industry to overcome some preliminary hurdles in Alberta, but to also deliver the lowest-cost solar electricity in Canada’s history.”
A switch to solar “will come at the cost of wind farms,” the Edmonton Journal notes, “but the government said its goal to have 30% of electricity on Alberta’s power grid come from renewables by 2030 will provide opportunities for those farms to expand their businesses.” Phillips said the government’s goal was to support the growth of green technology and further diversity the province’s grid.