Western Lily Wind Power Facility at Grenfell on July 7, 2023. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

REGINA – As both Saskatchewan and Alberta premiers are expressing concern about federal efforts to rid the Canadian power grid of fossil fuels, as well as curtailing fossil fuel production, the renewable power generation the federal government is pushing failed, once again. And it looks like the fight between Ottawa, Regina and Edmonton is heating up when it comes to all of the above.

On July 15, both Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith responded to statements made by federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault’s efforts to “phase out unabated fossil fuels.” In the early hours of that morning, wind power generation flatlined in Alberta. And on the day Guilbeault made the initial comments, wind power flatlined in Saskatchewan.

Premier Scott Moe tweeted on July 15 in response to a CBC story regarding Moe referenced a CBC story.

Moe tweeted, “If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. The Trudeau government doesn’t want to just reduce emissions in our energy sector, they want to completely shut down our energy sector.”

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Alberta’s Smith takes a swipe

And Alberta Premier Danielle Smith had even more to say. She tweeted on July 15:

I was disappointed to read comments federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault made to a reporter about his intention to see the federal government impose a net-zero electricity mandate on all provinces for 2035 and that he continued to reference Ottawa’s planned de facto oil and gas production cut.

Not only are the contemplated federal targets unconstitutional, they create investor uncertainty and are extremely harmful to the Alberta and Canadian economies.

I was also alarmed to read the minister’s belief that oil and gas production is likely to be reduced by 75 per cent by 2050.

This belief does not align with any credible forecast of future world energy consumption, which continue to see oil and gas dominating the energy supply mix for decades to come.

Instead of seeking ways to sow investor uncertainty and reduce support for Canadian energy globally, the federal government should focus on partnering with Alberta and investing in our national energy sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 while simultaneously increasing energy production, jobs and economic growth for Canadians.

Further, if the minister is truly committed to reducing emissions around the world, he should busy himself with assisting Western Canada to replace emissions from coal, wood and dung in Asia and Africa with clean Canadian LNG. This would result in the lower worldwide emissions he claims to want. His referenced planned phaseout of Alberta’s oil and gas sector will only result in higher net worldwide emissions, along with serious poverty and energy insecurity in Canada and abroad.

Alberta will not recognize any federally imposed emission-reduction targets for our energy and electricity sectors under any circumstances unless such targets are first consented to by the Government of Alberta. Nor will Alberta recognize any right of the federal government to legislate or regulate in this exclusive area of provincial jurisdiction, or any area of shared constitutional jurisdiction, without the explicit approval of Alberta.

As we commence the federal-provincial working group on aligning Ottawa’s climate efforts with Alberta’s emissions reduction and energy development plan, I hope the Prime Minister will instruct his involved ministers to respect the rights and jurisdiction of all provinces on this and other related matters, and to do a more effective job of building investor confidence in Canada’s oil and gas sector as profitable, certain and the most environmentally responsible on Earth.

Because it is.

Read article: https://t.co/u7nTvd3C6J #cdnpoli #abpoli #ableg

Here is the original tweet:

 

Guilbeault’s interview

That story Smith quoted provides a lot of detail about Guilbeault’s and the federal government’s thoughts on future energy production in Canada, from power generation to oil and gas. In that story Smith quoted, Guilbeault said similar words to what Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in Regina on June 28. On July 12, Guilbeault said:

If you look at the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the International Energy Agency (IEA), we know that we will likely still use fossil fuels in a carbon-neutral world by 2050. But we will be using far less fossil fuels than today.

The numbers broadly point in the same direction: we will likely go from around 100 million barrels of oil per day to something like 25-30 million barrels per day – a 75% reduction.

In addition, the fossil fuels we would use in 2050 will likely not be for combustion – they would be for industrial processes, asphalt, and things like that. But we need to ensure that the fossil fuels we are using in a carbon-neutral world in 2050, or maybe soon before, are as low-emitting as possible and that all of the emissions resulting from the production of those fossil fuels are either captured and sequestered, or offset in one way or another.

So that’s what we mean by “abated” fossil fuels instead of “unabated.”

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Guilbeault doesn’t even mention our CCS when asked

Guilbeault was asked directly about how far advanced carbon capture technology was in Canada, and never once mentioned the Boundary Dam Unit 3 project, in operation for nearly nine years now in Saskatchewan, nor the Scotford Upgrader Quest project, in operation for nearly eight years in Alberta.

Guilbeault did provide some hints of what to expect when the Clean Electricity Regulations are released in the coming months, noting, “We will be announcing regulations for a net-zero grid by 2035. It won’t be a fossil fuel-free grid – we anticipate some fossil fuels will still be part of our electricity mix in 2035. But the emissions from fossil fuel-producing facilities would have to be carbon captured and sequestered.”

While acknowledging provincial constitutional control over natural resources, Guilbeault said, “The federal government can and is playing a role in pollution, which is why we’ve put carbon pricing in place and are about to set an objective to make electricity production carbon-neutral by 2035.

“We will also be introducing regulation to cap the emissions of the oil and gas sector – a cap and cut regulation – in the coming months. Our goal is that whatever happens to production, we need to ensure that the emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector go down over time.”

Wind in Alberta flatlined on July 15, and July 12 in Saskatchewan

Will the politicians have been scrapping, the wind turbines have not been turning.

At 2:33 a.m. on Saturday, July 15, Alberta’s 3,731 megawatts of wind were producing 20 megawatts.

That’s according to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), as recorded by Twitter bot account @ReliableAB, which posts hourly updates on the AESO’s published data.

Curiously, solar power was registering 4 megawatts of generation in the middle of night. How that was possible is unclear, but that level of solar power generation continued throughout the night. The errant, perhaps miraculous solar generation was reported from Burdett, a 20 megawatt solar installation located on private property in Forty Mile, Alberta, according to Dispatcho.app. It’s a project by BluEarth Renewables, which went into operation in 2021. You can look up its data here.

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But on the presumption that solar did, indeed, produce 4 megawatts of power at 2:33 a.m., Alberta’s total wind and solar portfolio of 5,016 megawatts across 37 wind farms and 35 solar farms was producing 24 megawatts. That’s 0.5 per cent (half of one per cent), or five one-thousandths of nameplate capacity. If you consider wind alone, the 20 megawatts out of 3,731 was also 0.5 per cent of nameplate capacity.

At that moment, Alberta’s last coal-fired generating unit, Genessee Power Station, was producing 793 megawatts, or 96.7 per cent of nameplate capacity. Those two coal units combined were producing 33 times the total power generation from wind and solar, combined, or 39.6 times the power generation from wind. Those units will be taken off coal later this year and converted to natural gas, meaning the end of coal-fired power generation in Alberta.

SaskPower delays its power generation reporting by two days, and provides much less detail than the AESO. However, on July 12, Saskatchewan’s 617 megawatts of grid-scale wind generation averaged 30 megawatts, or 4.9 per cent of nameplate capacity. But as that was an average, it means there were times during that day wind power was both above and below 30 megawatts. This occurred on the same day federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault was interviewed about energy matters and federal initiatives to increase renewable power and cut back on fossil fuels.

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Power generation in Saskatchewan on July 12. SaskPower

 

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