In our last blog we shared details of SaskPower's announcement of new wind targets: 20 percent by capacity or 12.2 percent of total generation, by 2030. It is undeniably good news that SaskPower has at last chosen to recognise the enormous economic potential in wind energy. It is nonetheless important to realize that the transition that SaskPower envisages is almost ten times slower than other jurisdictions. This means higher electricity prices and sub-optimal environmental outcomes. 

Compared with US States. The following chart shows the actual amounts of electricity generated by wind energy, as a percentage of the total, for Saskatchewan and some leading US states, for the 2006 to 2014 period. It then shows estimates of the same, but only for Saskatchewan, to 2030. 

 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Monthly, SaskPower Annual Reports, SaskPower presentation: 'Wind Power Opportunities' @ CanWEA Western Forum (Vancouver) 27-Apr-2015.

 

This illustrates that leading US wind states have transitioned to wind energy incredibly quickly. In percentage terms Iowa is in front - sourcing as it does 28.5 percent of its electricity from wind turbines at the end of 2014. But South Dakota is the leader in terms of the speed with which it has adopted wind energy. It took South Dakota only three and a half years to transition from three percent of its electricity from wind to 12.2 percent. All the states shown reached the 12.2 percent level in remarkably similar time frames: the 'slowest' was Idaho which took five years.
We are therefore left wondering why it will take Saskatchewan 25 years (2006 to 2030) to achieve a 12 percent wind energy penetration. 

Compared with Canada, the U.S. and the World. Another way to look at this is in terms of the relative increase in installed wind energy capacity versus a starting year. The following compares this metric for Saskatchewan, Canada as a whole, the United States and the World for the period 2006 to 2014. It also (but only for Saskatchewan) extends the metric to 2030.

 

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy (2014), U.S. Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Monthly (multiple years), SaskPower Annual Report (multiple years), SaskPower presentation: 'Wind Power Opportunities' @ CanWEA Western Forum (Vancouver) 27-Apr-2015.

 

The point is that even if the rest of the world stands still, it will take Saskatchewan until 2027 before it has increased its installed wind capacity by as much as the World, it will draw level with the U.S. the next year and it is not until 2029 that it will draw equal with the rest of Canada. And, again, this analysis assumes that no additional wind is installed in Canada, the U.S. or the World after 2014. Such an assumption is clearly ridiculous but nonetheless confirms that SaskPower's new targets are not particularly challenging.