This morning SaskPower announced its new energy plan for the next 15 years. It is, when compared to Alberta's energy strategy which was released yesterday, comparatively simple since it consists only of planned capacity additions (there is no carbon tax or caps on total emissions).

New capacity

SaskPower's new strategy sees a doubling, by 2030, in the installed capacity of renewables in the province. It breaks down as follows.

Source: SaskPower 2014 Report and Accounts. SaskWind estimates

Source: SaskPower  news release 'SaskPower to develop wind, solar & geothermal to meet 50% renewable target'. 23-Nov-2015

Renewable capacity will more than triple from 1,100 megawatts (MW) to 3,500 MW in 2030. The big winner in this is wind energy which will see its installed capacity increase from 220 MW today to 2,100 MW. Given an average turbine size of 2 MW, this equates to the installation of 940 new wind turbines. 

From a generation perspective

However and as usual, SaskPower is referencing capacity and not generation. To convert to generation we had to make a number of assumptions;

1) No new coal-fired capacity is added before 2030 but all existing capacity is kept online. This could only happen if all existing coal-fired capacity is fitted with Carbon Capture. As previously noted (on multiple occasions!) this seems unlikely given its high cost: nonetheless assumptions had to be made..

2) All capacity increases for non-renewables (200 MW) are assumed to come from new gas-fired capacity.

3) Hydro, wind and solar operate at the same capacity factor in 2030 as today (62, 40 and 17 percent respectively). Actually the wind capacity is slightly higher than today's 37 percent. This is reasonable given steady increases which are being realised in the industry due to technological innovations.

4) The 2030 'Solar, Biomass and Geothermal' capacity is assumed to have an average capacity factor of 50 percent. This is because while solar has a low capacity factor (as mentioned) that for biomass and geothermal is relatively high.

With all these assumptions we produced this estimate for power generation in 2030 vs. 2015; 

Source: SaskPower 2014 Report and Accounts. SaskWind estimates

SourceSaskPower  news release 'SaskPower to develop wind, solar & geothermal to meet 50% renewable target'. 23-Nov-2015

What is the significance & what next?

We have always focused on the economic advantages of renewables generally and wind specifically. So we'll do the same again here. There is a tendency to think of what happened today as simply an exercise in installing a few wind turbines and solar panels (with maybe some biomass and geothermal on the side).

The reality is that SaskPower's announcement this morning marked the beginning of a new industry for Saskatchewan.

How so?

The total capital investment necessary, simply to meet the wind targets, will be in the region of $4-billion. Include solar/biomass/geothermal and it could easily rise to $5-billion. That investment could (and should!) create new industries and more than 25,000 person-years of employment for Saskatchewan.

If we are clever about it we can ensure that the bulk of those benefits accrue to Saskatchewan businesses and communities. If we are not clever those benefits will be lost to other provinces/countries which have moved faster than us in the renewable sector and which already have well-established industries.

We are certainly not talking protectionism but what we are suggesting is that, if we are to reap the full potential of this amazing opportunity, Saskatchewan industries need to work together to ensure that smart energy policies are developed in the coming years. 

Enter the Saskatchewan Renewable Industries Association which launched today. Check it out.

AuthorJames Glennie