Clean Energy

How Saskatchewan is Driving Small Wind Producers Out of the Market

It would have been the first 100 per cent community-owned renewable power project in North America.

Located just south of Swift Current, Sask., the $90-million project would have generated 35 megawatts (MW) of electricity from wind turbines and solar panels with electricity sold to the provincial utility, SaskPower.

But SaskPower had other plans for the region — specifically, a $700-million natural gas power station.

On Dec. 2, it was announced that the gas power station — which will emit one million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, equivalent to putting 211,000 cars on the road for a year — wouldn’t require a federal environmental assessment.

Two days later, SaskWind, the provincial wind energy association and key promoter of the proposed Swift Current wind and solar project, shut down after four years of operation.

Ontario Cancels Nearly $4 Billion in Clean Energy Projects

Originally published on The Climate Examiner.

The fingerpointing continues on the Ontario government’s decision to cancel $3.8 billion in planned wind and solar projects, as part of its struggle to keep a lid on soaring electricity prices that are being attributed to multiple factors.

The cancelled schemes could have offered up to 1000 megawatts of power under optimal weather conditions, sufficient to service the instantaneous demand of roughly a million homes.

Previously signed projects will still go ahead, including 16 wind, solar and run-of-river hydroelectric endeavours that could offer up to 455 megawatts.

Last month, the government announced an eight-per cent subsidy for residential and small-business electricity bills amid growing voter anger over price increases that have given the province one of the highest electricity costs in North America.

Oilpatch to Solar Field: Alberta Oil and Gas Workforce Lines Up for Solar Training

oil and gas workers solar training

There just aren’t enough solar training centres in Alberta to keep up with demand from former oilpatch workers, according to Randall Benson, owner of Gridworks Energy Group, an Edmonton-based company that designs, supplies and installs solar panels.

Benson, who has worked in the solar industry since the year 2000, said Tweet: More training is needed to upgrade skills of #Alberta’s vastly underemployed oil & gas workforce http://bit.ly/2bwZGYj #ableg #cdnpolimore capacity is needed to upgrade the skills of the province’s vastly underemployed oil and gas workforce which has lost thousands of jobs in the wake of plummeting oil prices.

We do a lot of training,” Benson told DeSmog Canada. “The interest in training is unbelievable, it's gone up two or three fold just in the last couple of years. And it continues to grow.”

Benson, who said he’s had to turn people away from full classes, is currently considering opening up another training centre in Calgary to keep up with demand.

But as reports of overburdened solar training centres start to emerge, the biggest question — of who will employ all the newly trained workers — remains unanswered.

Has Clean Energy's Time Finally Come in Canada?

Solar panels

Federal and provincial climate policies unveiled over the last year are paving the way for Canada to massively increase the amount of energy the country gets from renewable sources, according to a new analysis released today by Clean Energy Canada.

For the first time the federal government and the provinces are working together to establish a national climate plan,” Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said. “A big piece of the puzzle is not just cleaning up the grid, but electrifying other parts of the economy reliant on fossil fuels.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is drafting a ‘pan-Canadian clean growth and climate change framework’ to be released this fall. Meantime, last year Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada’s main oil and gas producing provinces, set ambitious renewable energy targets. And Ontario recently announced one of the most cutting edge greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans in Canada to date.

All of that means things are finally looking up for clean energy in Canada. Federal and provincial politicians now need to make good on their climate pledges for the country to reap even bigger benefits from this $500 billion global industry.

Worldwide Jobs in Renewable Energy Surge to 8.1 Million. Where Does Canada Fit in?

All around the world, more people are working in the renewable energy industry than ever before due to more affordable clean energy and new policies, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Canada ranks eleventh globally, according to IRENA, with 36,000 renewable energy sector jobs.

Growth in the sector is impressive, but Canada isn’t keeping pace with the U.S., which has 769,000 renewable-related jobs, a much higher population percentage.

The report, released Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, found that more than 8.1 million people worldwide are employed in renewable energy, an increase of more than five per cent over the previous year.

The Maritimes: Canada’s Secret Trailblazer in Wind Energy

You probably wouldn't guess it, but Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are unsung heroes in Canadian wind energy — producing more than 10 per cent of their electricity needs from wind, more than any other provinces.

Some electricity utility companies in Canada will tell you all you’ll ever get from wind is 10 per cent of your electrical needs,” Carl Brothers, an engineer and wind energy consultant, said. “In PEI, we are closing in on 30 per cent.”

By comparison, Ontario, Canada’s biggest wind power producer, manages to meet about four per cent of its domestic demand through wind energy.

The shift to renewable energy in Nova Scotia and PEI in the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable.  At the turn of the 21st century, both provinces were dependent on coal and oil-fired power plants for nearly all of their electricity. Neither province possesses the massive waterpower resources Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia rely on to produce renewable electricity.

As Oil and Gas Revenues Drop by 90 Per Cent, Alberta Budget Paves Way For Clean Energy Sector to Emerge

A renewable energy economy may emerge from the heart of Canada’s oil industry thanks to announcements made in Alberta’s provincial budget last week. The budget promises spending $51.5 billion in 2016 despite resource royalties projected to be as low as $1.4 billion, representing a 90 per cent drop.
 
The province pledged $2.2 billion for clean infrastructure, $645 million for energy efficiency and unveiled an expanded carbon levy that the government estimates will generate $3.4 billion for renewable energy development. An additional $195 million has been set aside to help First Nations communities transition off coal and onto cleaner sources of energy.
 
“We’re very proud of our climate leadership plan as a progressive way to bend the curve on carbon,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci said in a press conference Thursday.
 
Sara Hastings-Simon, director of the clean economy program at the Pembina Institute, commended the province’s decision to expand the carbon levy to beyond industrial emitters.
 
“We know it is the most efficient way to reduce emissions in the province,” she said.

Clean Energy Breaking into B.C. Market With Remarkable $8.6 Billion in Investments: New Report

Clean power projects, such as run-of-river, thermal, solar and wind operations, are providing about 14 per cent of BC Hydro’s domestic supply of electricity and account for $8.6 billion in capital investment in the province, according to a new report commissioned by Clean Energy BC.
 
The report by MNP, a chartered accountancy and business advisory firm, finds investments have been made throughout the province, including in First Nations communities and areas hit by the recent collapse in global commodity markets.
 
“Clean Energy Projects can help diversify the economies of local communities by providing another source of employment in communities that may have traditionally relied on mining or forestry to provide the majority of local employment,” the report states.
 
Many of the 101 independent power projects currently in operation are owned by First Nations or have benefit or revenue-sharing agreements with local First Nations.

Clean Power Remains a Major Challenge for Remote First Nations

Part two of a two-part series from The TyeeRead the first part of this story: B.C. First Nation’s Four-Decade Fight for Diesel-Free Clean Energy Caught in Bureaucratic Limbo.

By the time the Great Recession of 2008 hit, Hartley Bay's decades-long struggle to shed its reliance on diesel was in a precarious place. The complexity of navigating multiple funders and governments with limited funds and human resources was becoming overwhelming.

Then Enbridge came to town.

Roger Harris, a former BC Liberal MLA and Enbridge's Northern Gateway point man for aboriginal relations, visited the isolated reserve, 140 kilometres south of Prince Rupert on British Columbia's north coast, in February 2009. He arrived knowing the community of fishermen, dependent on salmon and eco tourism, was vehemently opposed to his company's plan to turn their coast into a high-traffic oil tanker route.

At a private meeting between Enbridge and Gitga'at leaders in February 2009, according to several band members, Harris argued that the Gitga'at rely on diesel for electricity, so why shouldn't people in foreign countries who need fuel for electricity be able to have that as well?

B.C. First Nation’s Four-Decade Fight for Diesel-Free Clean Energy Caught in Bureaucratic Limbo

Part one of a two-part series from The Tyee. Read part two: Clean Power Remains a Major Challenge for Remote First Nations. 

Cameron Hill will never forget the cold October night in 1975 when a diesel generating plant breakdown cut all power to Hartley Bay's homes and water treatment. Completely isolated 140 kilometres south of Prince Rupert on British Columbia's north coast, the village and home community of the Gitga'at First Nation (pronounced “Git-Gat”) was completely on its own.

“Six weeks later, the power was still out,” says Hill, 47, now the school principal and a 20-year Gitga'at band councillor. More than anything else, he remembers watching his family's winter supply of salmon, halibut, moose and berries defrost and spoil in their multiple freezers.

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