February 27, 2023

Weekly EconMinute—Existing solar and wind electricity capacity

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re looking at existing solar and wind electricity capacity.

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As Canada aims for a net-zero electricity grid by 2035, each province will be tasked with finding the best energy mix to keep the lights on at the lowest price and with the least climate impact.

Since solar and wind power generation have become cost-competitive with traditional forms of power generation, these technologies will increasingly become part of the energy mix in regions where it makes sense.

Because Alberta’s geography is not conducive to developing zero-emission baseload power like hydroelectricity, the province has relied on its cheap and abundant coal and natural gas to provide affordable electricity. As such, Alberta is often perceived across Canada as a place that’s resistant to clean energy. So how does Alberta’s combined solar and wind installation compare with elsewhere in the country?

  • As of December 31, 2022, Alberta has the third-most solar and wind capacity installed of all provinces—behind only Ontario and Quebec.
  • On a per capita basis, Alberta ranks second among provinces in installed solar and wind capacity, trailing only windy, sparsely-populated Prince Edward Island.
  • Per capita, Alberta has more than 173% and 186% of the solar and wind capacity installed in Ontario and Quebec, respectively.
  • As of January 25th, 2023, Alberta’s Major Projects inventory lists approximately 6,900 megawatts of additional solar and wind capacity either proposed or under construction—which would nearly double Alberta’s existing capacity.

While intermittent solar and wind are not going to be the sole solution for decarbonizing grids, they will no doubt play a big and growing part of the energy mix. Alberta has the ingredients—the sun, wind, and open electricity market—to continue attracting investments in wind and solar power.

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