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Canada’s Oil Capital Making Leap to Renewable Energy

Alberta billed the move as part of its Climate Leadership Plan.Alberta billed the move as part of its Climate Leadership Plan.

The government of Alberta—home to the world’s third-largest oil reserves—has auctioned off 595 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to be built in the province, which exceeded the government’s target of 400 megawatts.

The process marks a major step for Alberta—Canada’s largest consumer of coal and its second-largest producer of the fuel—in its efforts to transition to all renewable and gas-fired generation by 2030.

Rather than a change in direction, Alberta’s government billed the move toward renewables, part of its Climate Leadership Plan, as a continuation of the province’s leading position in energy, Bloomberg reported.

“It’s an industry that’s going to continue to be at the core of who we are and what we do for many, many years to come,” Premier Rachel Notley said at a news conference.

The winning bidders were Capital Power Corp., which is planning a wind farm with 201 megawatts of capacity, EDP Renewables, which is developing a 248-megawatt project, and Enel Green Power SpA, which will build two wind farms with a total capacity of 146 megawatts, according to an emailed statement. Combined, the wind farms can power more than 250,000 homes, officials said.

The weighted average bid was 3.7 Canadian cents (3 US cents) a kilowatt-hour, the lowest price for wind power ever in Canada. Developers agreed to sell power for 8.5 Canadian cents a kilowatt-hour in an Ontario unit last year.

The Climate Leadership Plan seeks to phase out all pollution from coal-fired electricity and get 30% of the province’s power, or about 5,000 megawatts of capacity, from renewable sources by 2030. The first round of the competition started with a request for expressions of interest in March and saw 29 projects advance to the bidding stage.

The government of Alberta, controlled by the left-leaning New Democratic Party, has sought to balance efforts to curb climate change while not harming the province’s major industry.

Alberta’s oil sands contain the world’s third-largest stores of crude, with proven reserves of about 165.4 billion barrels and produced about 2.5 million barrels of crude bitumen last year, roughly the same oil output as the entire country of Mexico.

Coal is also a major industry in Alberta. The province consumes about two-thirds of the fuel used in Canada for generating electricity, according to the nation’s natural resources department.

 

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