Canada’s Renewable Power Landscape 2017 – Energy Market Analysis

Two red canoes float at the dock of Moraine Lake

Alberta

In 2016, Alberta generated 47.4% of its electricity from coal, 40.3% from natural gas, and 12.3% from renewables. Wind was the largest source of renewable power, generating 6.9% of Alberta’s electricity.

Generation Trends

Electricity generation in Alberta is dominated by coal and natural gas. Since 2005, generation has trended towards less coal and more natural gas, and this trend is set to continue as Alberta plans to phase out coal by 2030. Currently, coal generates 47.4% of Alberta’s electricity.

Wind generation has added more capacity than any other renewable source in Alberta. Since 2005, wind’s share of total generation increased from 1.1% to 6.9%.  Alberta now has the third highest wind generation in Canada (5 674 GW.h in 2016) after Quebec and Ontario. Most Alberta wind farms are located in the windy southern part of the province.  

Biomass and hydro generation have been steady in Alberta. The share of generation for each of these sources fluctuated between 2% and 3% in recent years.

Capacity Changes in 2016

Alberta added an estimated 305 MW of natural gas-fired generation in 2016. Most of this was cogeneration of electricity and steam for oil sands production. The largest addition was the 100 MW Christina Lake cogeneration facility. Electricity from this facility is sold on Alberta’s wholesale electricity market while its steam is used for in-situ oil sands production.

The Cowley Ridge wind facility was Canada’s first commercial wind farm. TransAlta retired it in 2016 after 23 years in service. Despite this, Alberta increased wind capacity mainly due to expansions at the Bull Creek Wind Facility.

More Information

Canada’s Renewable Power Landscape 2016 – Energy Market Analysis provides additional information on renewable power in Alberta.

FIGURE 9 Electricity Generation by Source in Alberta

Figure 9
Description

This graph shows the composition of Alberta’s electricity generation between 2005 and 2016. Hydro accounted for 3.4% of generation in 2005 and 2.8% in 2016. Biomass increased from 2.5% to 2.7% over that period. Wind increased from 1.1% in 2005 to 6.9% in 2016. Coal decreased from 64.3% to 47.4%. Natural gas, increased its share from 28.7% to 40.3%.

TABLE 3 Electric Capacity and Generation in Alberta

  Capacity in MW and % Generation in GW.h and %
  2005 2015 2016 2005 2015 2016
Oil and Diesel 7 7 7 17 12 0
0.1% <0.1% <0.1% <0.1% <0.1% 0.0%
Natural Gas 4 770 7 214 7 519 19 657 32 215 33 184
39.7% 44.3% 45.3% 28.7% 39.5% 40.3%
Coal 5 840 6 287 6 287 43 986 41 378 39 000
48.6% 38.6% 37.9% 64.3% 50.7% 47.4%
Biomass 271 428 428 1 725 2 149 2 201
2.3% 2.6% 2.6% 2.5% 2.6% 2.7%
Wind 251 1 463 1 467 741 4 089 5 674
2.1% 9.0% 8.8% 1.1% 5.0% 6.9%
Hydro 869 894 894 2 316 1 709 2 282
7.2% 5.5% 5.4% 3.4% 2.1% 2.8%
All renewable sources 1 391 2 785 2 789 4 782 7 947 10 156
11.6% 17.1% 16.8% 7.0% 9.7% 12.3%
All sources 12 008 16 293 16 602 68 442 81 552 82 341

Residential Bills and Greenhouse Gas Generation Intensity

Alberta’s most populous city, Calgary, has a relatively low residential electricity bill of $104 for 1 000 kW.h compared to the Canadian mean of $129 per 1 000 kW.h. Alberta’s GHG generation intensity is the highest in Canada, emitting 790 grams of GHGs per kW.h which is nearly six times Canada’s mean of 140 g GHG/kW.h.

FIGURE 10

FIGURE 10

Source and Description

Source:
Hydro-Québec, National Inventory Report

Description:
Two dials indicate the monthly residential electricity bill for 1 000 kW.h and the GHG generation intensity in grams of GHG per kW.h. Alberta’s most populous city, Calgary, has a relatively low residential electricity bill of $104 for 1 000 kW.h compared to the Canadian mean of $129 per 1 000 kW.h. Alberta’s GHG generation intensity is the highest in Canada, emitting 790 grams of GHGs per kW.h which is nearly six times Canada’s mean of 140 g GHG/kW.h.

 

 

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