Alberta could generate C$8.3 billion in economic activity and 15,000 job-years of employment by adding 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy supply to its electricity grid by 2030, the Canadian Wind Energy Association reports.
Alberta companies have developed a third of Canada’s 11.2 gigawatts of installed wind capacity. And “as the most cost-competitive source of renewable energy in Alberta today, wind is well positioned to deliver the energy required to meet the Alberta government’s commitment,” North America Energy News notes, citing a study completed for the industry association by Ottawa-based Delphi Group.
The report “estimates that the wind industry will contribute $25.5 million in municipal property taxes, and $13.5 million in land lease payments to Alberta landowners over the same period,” NAEN states.
“Wind energy plays to Alberta’s strengths, and the province’s highly skilled work force is a tremendous foundation for growth in the sector,” said CWEA President Robert Hornung.
Those numbers won’t rehire all 60,000 people who have lost their jobs in the Alberta oil patch since 2014. But many of those jobs aren’t coming back, even with a pickup in the industry’s fortunes, as former major employers strive to eliminate as many employees as possible from their production processes.
The wind lobby’s estimate is also far fewer than the Alberta government’s own hopes that its green supply target could generate as many as 7,200 new jobs from the combination of wind, solar, and hydro. It’s an even tinier fraction of the 145,000 jobs that Greenpeace estimated last year might be created by a wholesale provincial commitment to renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency.
Nonetheless, Mike McKinnon, spokesperson for Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, told the National Observer in an e-mail that “the strong response shows investors think we’re on the right track with this program, providing new economic opportunities and bringing the most renewable generation online at the lowest cost.”
CanWEA called on Alberta to cement the initiative’s investment- and job-creating potential by providing some certainty to industry order books, with “a long-term renewable energy procurement roadmap through 2030 that aligns with the province’s renewable energy target. For example, announcing a series of large procurement plans (eg. 1,500 MW every three years) that are rolled out in smaller, manageable phases.”
It also asked for investments in work force training, and technical research in areas like wind farm construction, turbine installation, and smart grid integration.
Earlier this year, applicants submitted 29 proposals in response to the province’s first call for 400 MW of renewable supply, according to the Observer. Winning bids will be announced in early 2018, and are expected to begin delivering power by 2019, McKinnon said.