Suncor plans big RE investments in Alberta, By Karl-Erik Stromsta, Recharge News, March 28 2016
A Suncor wind project in Alberta
Canadian energy giant Suncor is set to greatly broaden its push into renewables, with plans for nearly 700MW of wind and solar in the works in Alberta, taking advantage of the province’s recently adopted 30% renewables target.
Suncor currently owns stakes in six Canadian wind farms totaling 287MW of capacity. But Canada’s largest oil company is advancing plans for another four wind farms totaling up to 440MW and three solar projects totaling 240MW in Alberta, according to a local press report.
Suncor is currently working through the connection process for the projects. The solar capacity, spread across three 80MW arrays, is expected to be online within two years.
Alberta has virtually no solar capacity at present.
The province – home to the bulk of Canada’s controversial oil sands industry – sent ripples across the North American renewables market with its recent embrace of a 30% renewable power target for 2030. A series of competitive tenders are set to kick off later this year.
Neighbouring Saskatchewan followed Alberta’s lead and established a 50% renewables target for 2030.
While wind is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the western Canadian provinces’ newfound enthusiasm for renewables, large-scale solar is also likely to win a significant role.
A number of Canadian oil and fossil fuel infrastructure companies have invested in renewables over the years, including Enbridge and TransCanada. But the collapse of oil prices, paired with the new renewables targets, could see such companies – as well as new ones – revving up their investments into wind and solar.
Suncor’s expansion plans in renewables cut a sharp contrast with its broader business. Due to low oil prices, the Calgary-based company is in the process of laying off workers and deferring planned capital investments.