Thirty per cent of Alberta’s electricity will come from renewable sources such as wind, hydro and solar by 2030. Alberta will add 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity through the Renewable Electricity Program. It's estimated $10.5 billion in new investment will flow into the provincial economy by 2030, creating at least 7,200 new jobs for Albertans as projects are built through this program.
Solar power generation in Alberta is largely done on a micro-scale and community-scale basis, however, larger scale projects of up to 15 MW are scheduled to come online by the end of 2017. As Canada’s sunniest province with over 333 days of sunshine a year, Alberta has an abundance of solar resources. Solar power has long been used in the province to power remote monitoring and control systems within the oil and gas industry. Steady cost reductions have now made solar power a very attractive option for systems tied into the grid. Tremendous potential exists for expansion of Alberta’s solar industry into new applications.
Funding has been allocated to provide solar panels on all new build and modernization school projects within the province. Grants for indigenous communities or organizations looking to transition to a lower carbon economy, including the installation of solar panels exists. Farmers, businesses and homeowners can all access incentives to adopt solar photovoltaic systems to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce electrical bills. The Alberta government has made it clear that renewable energy is a top priority for the province.
The Commercial and residential solar program alone, is estimated to support the creation of 900 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the province by about half a million tonnes-the equivalent of taking 100,00 passenger vehicles off the road.
Alberta is the founder of wind energy in Canada, with over 20 years of experience in the industry and over 1400 megawatts of installed generation capacity. The province’s 901 wind turbines currently make up 6% of Alberta’s total energy generation capacity. Alberta has the third largest installed wind energy capacity in the country, and the industry is set to grow astronomically with Alberta’s commitment to renewable energy. Estimates show that for every 150 MW of new wind energy, there is; $316 million in investment, 140 full time equivalent jobs and 10 permanent jobs in operations. The 65 industries that have been identified in the wind value chain will play a crucial role in developing this industry in Alberta.
Alberta currently has almost 900 MW of installed capacity for hydroelectricity split amongst 9 units. The largest hydroelectric dam in Alberta is Brazeau Hydroelectric Dam on the North Saskatchewan River in Drayton Valley at 350 MW. Hydroelectricity makes up 6 per cent of Alberta’s total installed capacity. The Canadian Hydro Association estimates that there are 11,500 MW of remaining economic hydro potential including both reservoir and run of the river projects.
Alberta has a long history of supporting biomass produced electricity and biofuels. The installed capacity for biomass in Alberta is currently just over 400 MW, which makes up approximately 2.5 per cent of the total installed capacity. Alberta has 20 million tonnes of annual waste in potential biomass feedstock, creating a massive amount of untapped resources.