Why Alberta’s Premier is Placing a Moratorium on Wind and Solar Power Projects

Recently, the Premier of Alberta announced a six-month freeze on new wind and solar power projects greater than one megawatt. This decision has come as a surprise to the province’s renewable energy industry. Premier Danielle Smith argues that Ottawa is one of the reasons that her government has decided to halt new projects. She claims that the federal government is preventing the development of backup generation for renewable energy like natural gas.

But, why does Alberta need backup plants powered by natural gas?

And why doesn’t the federal government want any new natural gas electricity plants on the grid?

Brain Scott, CEO of SolarDev had an interesting take on the situation on LinkedIn:

So the Premier tells us the moratorium is about the environmental concerns. Then when pressed about she blames the Federal government.

I know she has reputation for flip flopping but this is ridiculous. And unfortunately when many of us suspected this was about protecting her friends. We were right and the comments she has just made create even greater uncertainty in the market as how is anyone to trust that this is just a 7 month pause or that there wont be more fences going up to protect her friends. Sure they slide a one liner in there about reliability so they can use it later when we know that renewables are the only thing keeping the lights on. on hot summer days

“She said, the federal government doesn’t want Alberta to add any new natural gas electricity plants to the grid.”
“So I’ve told them, how can I bring on additional wind and solar if I’m not able to secure the reliability of my power grid by being able to bring on natural gas peaker plants? That’s the heart of the problem,” Smith said”

“The rationale was confusing for an energy market economist, as well as a representative of a renewable energy industry group, who said there isn’t a requirement in Alberta’s market for generators to be able to supply power 24-7.

“If somebody adds solar to the grid, you don’t need to add backup to compensate for it,” said Andrew Leach, a University of Alberta energy economist. “It just adds a source of cheap electricity for times when it is sunny outside.”
“Essentially, you bring your power to the market every hour and see what it sells for.”
Leach said it’s possible the addition of cheap wind and solar energy could discourage natural-gas powered projects by lowering the price of electricity. But he said the reverse is also true — that fossil fuel projects could discourage green ones.
He also said Alberta’s energy market, by law, operates on free and open competition.

Natural gas is an efficient and clean-burning fossil fuel. It is abundant in Alberta, with the province having some of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. This makes natural gas a reliable and cost-effective energy source for backup power generation. Alberta is a province that relies heavily on renewable energy sources like wind and solar power to meet its energy needs.

However, renewable energy sources are intermittent, meaning that they don’t provide a steady supply of energy. When the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, we need a backup power source to meet our energy needs. This is where natural gas power plants come into play. They can provide a reliable and steady supply of energy when renewable energy sources can’t.

The federal government, on the other hand, is pushing for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas. They want to transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, which are sustainable and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government has set targets to reduce emissions and has introduced policies and regulations to promote green energy.

As a result, they are not in favor of adding any new natural gas power plants to the national grid. Alberta’s decision to freeze new wind and solar projects greater than one megawatt has put them at odds with the federal government’s plan to transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

The Premier argues that Alberta needs backup generation for renewable energy, and natural gas power plants are the most efficient and cost-effective option available. Natural gas power plants can quickly respond to changes in demand, which is crucial in maintaining a stable and reliable energy supply.

Additionally, natural gas power plants can be used to offset the intermittency of renewable energy sources, ensuring that we have a consistent supply of energy throughout the day. Without backup power generation, Alberta’s renewable energy sources may not be able to meet the province’s energy needs consistently.

Alberta’s decision to halt new projects in wind and solar power has caused a debate between the provincial and federal governments. Premier Smith believes that natural gas power plants are needed to provide backup generation for renewable energy, while the federal government opposes the use of fossil fuels and is pushing for a transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources. Alberta is a province that relies heavily on renewable energy sources, and a reliable backup power source is needed to ensure a steady supply of energy. While the debate continues, it is crucial that we find a balance between renewable energy sources and backup power generators to meet our energy needs efficiently and sustainably.