Alberta RE tenders to kick off in late 2016, By Karl-Erik Stromsta, Recharge News, March 04 2016
A Suncor wind project in Alberta
Alberta’s government has set the wheels in motion for the Canadian province – home to the notorious oil sands – to begin procuring a new generation of large wind and solar projects through a rolling series of competitive tenders kicking off in late 2016.
Late last year Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sent ripples across the Canadian renewables industry by pledging that the carbon-heavy province would source 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2030, and phase coal-fired generation out entirely.
The pledge came after Notley and her leftist New Democratic Party ousted the fossil fuel-friendly Conservatives in a landmark provincial election earlier in 2015.
As a result, Alberta – the only merchant power market in Canada – is expected to become a significant new growth market for Canadian renewables, after languishing for years behind Ontario and Quebec.
Notley’s government this week formally tasked the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) with developing and implementing a renewables incentive programme that will foster a build-out over the next decade and a half.
While the details of the programme have not yet been worked out, the AESO says the first “competition” for new renewables projects can be expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2016 – with the first big wind and solar projects brought online by 2019.
The AESO will submit its recommendations on the renewables programme’s design in May. Renewables investors are encouraged to weigh in on the details of how the programme should work.
Alberta is blessed with significant potential for both large-scale wind and solar, according to developers in both sectors. A number of big developers, including Samsung Renewable Energy, have already signaled their interest in building in the province.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association hailed the announcement, and said it will work with AESO to get the programme’s design right.
“The leadership shown by the Alberta government on renewable energy has attracted the attention of wind energy investors from around the world,” CanWEA said in a statement.
Alberta currently sources more than half of its power from coal. As that capacity is taken offline, Notley’s plan would see two-thirds of it being replaced by renewables.