SaskPower, the public utility serving Saskatchewan, has set a target to double the percentage of renewable electricity generation capacity in the province by 2030. To help meet that goal, the utility will significantly grow its installed wind energy capacity, and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has applauded the announcement.
‘An objective of 50 percent renewable power by 2030 is ambitious, but I'm confident SaskPower can meet the target by taking an 'all of the above' approach to planning,’ states Bill Boyd, the provincial minister responsible for SaskPower. ‘That means a major expansion of wind power augmented by other renewables, such as solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro, to go along with the world-leading Boundary Dam 3 carbon capture project and more natural gas generation.’
Today, SaskPower says, about 25% of Saskatchewan's generation capacity comes from renewable sources – 20% from hydro and 5%, or 220 MW, from wind. The company notes three new wind power projects already approved or in development will add another 207 MW of renewable generation by 2020.
Furthermore, SaskPower's new plan includes moving forward with procurement of another 100 MW of wind generation in 2016 and the development of up to 1,600 MW of new wind generation between 2019 and 2030.
CanWEA says that, if fully implemented, this strengthened commitment would increase the percentage of Saskatchewan's electricity produced from wind energy to approximately 20% by 2030 (representing 30% of installed capacity).
"Saskatchewan's tremendous wind energy resources have the potential to play a critical role in reducing the province's greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation," comments CanWEA President Robert Hornung.
"CanWEA is confident that a 2016 call for proposals will attract significant interest from the wind energy industry, and will result in a highly competitive process that will ensure low-cost supply for Saskatchewan ratepayers," says Hornung, adding that CanWEA looks forward to working with SaskPower.
Both CanWEA and SaskPower say the utility's plans to expand wind power could make the company a leader in Canada. However, SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh emphasizes that adding wind and other renewables in a way that's affordable for customers is what's important.
"The key here is that wind power has become much more economic over the years as the technology has developed," says Marsh. "We've been able to understand how wind operates on our grid so we can add it in a way that balances our priorities of maintaining a sustainable and diversified generation mix with the delivery of reliable and cost-effective power to our customers. We'll take that same approach to adding other clean options to make our renewables target of up to 50 percent by 2030."