Friday’s announcement of low-cost solar is a clear signal to Albertans how the world is changing. The sun has risen on solar in Alberta. This shift towards solar is not an outlier; it’s becoming the norm.
In 2017, the paradigm for wind energy in Alberta shifted with the announcement that the Alberta Electric System Operator procured wind energy for about 3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than any residential fixed price retail electricity contract available in the province today.
The paradigm also shifted for solar energy in Alberta on Friday and the opportunity for this growing industry cannot be underestimated. Global investment in solar energy in 2018 was about $125 billion and investment in all renewables topped $300 billion.
These government-backed procurements have caught the attention of investors around the globe and attracted some of the world’s largest power players to the Alberta market. Investor sentiment in Alberta renewables has never been stronger as financiers are clamouring to enter the Alberta renewable market. It’s not just investors who are eager to back renewables, corporations of all kinds now appreciate the opportunity to buy renewable power in Alberta.
Last year alone, corporations in the U.S. contracted for approximately 6.5 GW of renewable energy. That number represents nearly half the capacity of Alberta’s power plants. Around the globe, hundreds of companies have set, and many have reached, goals of becoming 100 per cent renewable-powered.
Not even two weeks ago, Budweiser used their most expensive air time, a Super Bowl commercial, to share that their production facilities have transitioned to wind energy. Tech giants such as Apple and Google have also made similar commitments. Closer to home, we continue to see major players in Alberta’s oil and gas sector further diversifying their portfolios to include renewable projects — I’d know, Greengate developed and sold what is currently Alberta’s largest operating wind farm to Enbridge.
While the marketing benefits are clear, corporations are buying renewables for more than the headline. The justification for buying renewables is three-fold:
Renewable purchases help companies retain employees, differentiate their product, and generate press;
In markets like Alberta, they help reduce environmental compliance costs;
They provide a hedge against rising fuel costs (something a lot of Alberta producers would appreciate right now) as renewable operating costs are extremely low and the fuel is free.
No corporation is buying renewables to help them sleep at night, it’s a decision that helps the bottom line.
Outside of wind, sun, oil and …read more