Written By Martin Ignasiak, Jason Roth, Jessica Kennedy, Tom McInerney, David Macaulay and Nathan Green
SaskPower, the Crown corporation responsible for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Saskatchewan, announced on November 7, 2022, that it will add up to 700 megawatts (MW) of renewable generation by 2027 with a wind/solar mix of 400 MW of new wind generation capacity and 300 MW of new solar generation capacity in south-central Saskatchewan. This will build on Saskatchewan's existing renewable electricity sources, which, as of fall 2021, accounted for 25 percent of total electricity generation in the province—largely from hydroelectric and wind power generation.
SaskPower has 30 MW of existing utility-scale solar facilities and 615 MW of wind generating capacity as of November 21, 2022. This announced procurement will increase SaskPower's solar generating capacity by 1000 percent and its wind generation capacity by 65 percent. SaskPower will publish more details regarding the specific renewable procurements competitions and project locations in the coming months on its MERX webpage.
This recently-announced procurement is part of SaskPower's goal of adding up to 3,000 MW of wind and solar generating capacity by 2035, transforming the grid and creating significant economic opportunities.
This announcement follows the exponential deployment of renewables in Alberta, where installed wind and solar generating capacity has more than doubled in the last two years to over 4,600 MW. This significant growth has been motivated by:
- steep declines in the levelized cost of electricity for wind and solar projects in recent years;
- Alberta's deregulated electricity generation sector attracting significant investment in renewables; and
- the Prairies' abundant wind and solar resources.
While Saskatchewan currently lags behind other provinces in the deployment of these renewable power technologies, the regulated and vertically-integrated nature of Saskatchewan's electricity sector creates a comparatively low-risk investment environment, obviating the need for third-party power purchase deals. The projected increases to the federal government's carbon pricing scheme also provide a short- and medium-term economic signal incentivizing renewable electricity generation. Combining these factors with reduced facility costs and virtually untapped wind and solar resources, it is clear Saskatchewan is well-positioned for significant growth in its renewables sector.
Saskatchewan's existing hydroelectric generating stations and reservoirs will pair well with SaskPower's proposed additional investments in intermittent renewables capacity, effectively allowing such water reservoirs to act as batteries to store solar and wind energy. South Dakota, Ontario, and Sweden are notable jurisdictions that illustrate the successful pairing of existing hydroelectric stations with renewables, enabling significant decarbonization in electricity generation.
The province has seen a modest decline in emissions associated with electricity generation as it works toward its goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. SaskPower also plans to procure other key technologies from private producers that will play significant roles in the transition to net-zero electricity, including a 20 MW battery energy storage system in Regina, a 35 MW geothermal power facility in southeastern Saskatchewan and, potentially, a 300 MW small modular nuclear reactor.
Continued investments in low-carbon electrical generation are critical to achieving a net-zero economy. With multiple major procurements of renewable power production announced just this year, SaskPower is demonstrating a significant commitment to such investments in the near- and mid-term. SaskPower states that its renewable projects are open to "all suppliers". Potential developers should follow SaskPower's posted procurements for the latest information on opportunities with SaskPower.
Please do not hesitate to contact the authors listed above if you have any questions regarding renewable energy development or SaskPower's procurement process.