Coal is the backbone of Alberta’s electricity generation market. At nearly 6,300 megawatts, the fuel accounts for over 40 per cent of the province’s installed generation capacity. More importantly, as the major source of baseload power supply in Alberta, coal provided 67 per cent of the electricity used in the province in 2014.
Replacing all of that electricity is a daunting task, to be sure. But that is precisely what the Alberta government proposes to do in a plan announced last November. By 2030, coal will be phased out, replaced by cleaner fuel sources like natural gas and renewables. The entire power system is supposed to consist of 30 per cent renewable energy.
“I would call it a once-in-a-lifetime unique opportunity for the investment and construction side of this industry to essentially rebuild a generation fleet,” says Mike Law, vice-president of market services at the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).