Carbon pricing could open the door for hydroelectric plants in British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba to supply electricity to the Alberta tar sands/oil sands, according to an analysis by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
“The six options considered include two different long-distance electricity transmission technologies that would connect Alberta to B.C.’s proposed Site C dam or to a hydro project on the Slave River,” the Sauder School reports. “They also include a connection to Manitoba’s Conawapa site and a reinforcement of the existing B.C.-Alberta intertie to allow more hydro power to flow east from B.C.”
The study concluded that “each of these six hydro power options can deliver sufficient electricity to satisfy the demand of in-situ bitumen extraction operations with production capacity of 0.5 million to 1.1 million barrels per day.”
CERI “found that reinforcing the intertie between B.C. and Alberta would be the least expensive option, while transporting hydro power from Manitoba would be the best choice involving a new hydro power project,” Forrest writes. “But the cost of delivering hydroelectricity to the oil sands would range from $81 to $162 per megawatt hour, compared with just $57/MWh for natural gas-fired cogeneration.”
So “without a price on greenhouse-gas emissions, the likelihood of hydro power options reducing the marginal cost of oil sands operations is low,” the report concluded.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark called for a more robust B.C.-Alberta intetie last week, arguing that “we’re 93% clean energy in B.C. We can easily help Alberta get off coal, and do it in a way that creates an east-to-west partnership.”