SaskPower Is Going To Miss Target

March 16, 2017
Dear Editor,
People should be asking how SaskPower intends to meet the 50% renewable electricity by 2030 target set by the Premier over a year ago. Since that announcement, a 350 MegaWatt (MW) natural gas burning plant has been planned for opening in 2019. A 170 MW wind installation is planned for southwest Saskatchewan. This week SaskPower is consulting with Saskatchewanians about a proposed 60 MW solar addition to the grid by 2021. And 1 MW of natural gas created by human activity at the Regina landfill, has just come online this month.
According to SaskPower, over 90% of the power produced within Saskatchewan comes from fossil fuel sources. We import hydro from Manitoba, and generate some in Saskatchewan. A bit more hydroelectricity is planned at Tazi Twe, to add 50 MW by 2019. A little more at Saskatoon’s delayed river hydro project.
Not to bore you with basic math, but 350-170-60-50+1 = 71 MW more will come from burning fossil fuels to be added to the grid within the next 4 years. Their “Renewables Roadmap” lists only 210 MW more for wind and solar to be called for by this quarter in their Request for Proposals. This leaves a huge renewable electricity shortfall to be fixed in the remaining 9 years. Does SaskPower have an answer to this? Does the Premier? Are they hoping no one notices?

North Dakota Wind Beats Saskatchewan Coal

Want to verify these numbers?

But what does Saskatchewan’s government and Crown power corp do?
350MW more Gas is next. And they chased away the biggest local wind power proponent.

SaskPower’s Power To Grow A Nose

SaskPower’s latest consultant on renewable energy might be Pinocchio.

Their misinformation about renewable energy intentionally leaves out the point that our power mix is not entirely coal, hydro, or natural gas today, so it wouldn’t make sense to power every aspect of our grid with only PV solar which presently depends upon storage to deliver power on very cloudy days and at night. We can however, use solar to reach 100% renewable power on our grid’s mix. I’ve previously outlined two plausible ways this could be done with existing technology.

Canada 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030?

Read this, and think of Energy East pipeline Brad Wall is pushing hard for.

Most of the globe’s coal, natural gas and oil investments will ultimately be affected by the transition, Seba suggest, at risk of becoming “stranded assets” — resources that lose their value before the expected end of their economic life.

“They are going to be stranded over the next five to 15 years,” he maintains. “It’s not going to take us over 40 years.”

Saskatchewan could strand assets, or we could build the future starting now.

Solutions Project calculates that 70 per cent of all the net new electricity generation in the U.S. last year was from wind and solar; another 25 per cent came from natural gas.

Meanwhile in Europe, Jacobson says if you look at the net gains minus losses, “100 per cent of new generation was from clean-energy sources.”

Here are some figures regarding present energy and electricity use across Canada.

And here’s a cool one about solar:

“At this point, 20 U.S. states have reached what economists call “grid parity” for solar power: the point at which solar energy costs no more than fossil fuels. Energy research company GTM estimates 42 states will reach that point by 2020.”

Stanford business professor Tony Seba, …whose advice has been sought in boardrooms from Tokyo to Paris, is confident that solar and wind are key to sweeping away the industrial age of transportation and energy — and fast. He suggests we can reach that magic number of 100 per cent within 15 years.

“The solar-installed capacity has doubled every two years since the year 2000. Doubled every two years,” he says. “If you keep doubling that capacity, all you need is seven more doublings in order for solar to be 100 per cent of the world’s energy supply.”

For math lightweights, that’s 7 times 2 years. 14 years from now is 2030. If you go out tonight and get pregnant, by the time the child becomes a teenager, Canada could have no coal plants, or natural gas plants in operation to produce our electricity. That’s awesome!

Boundary Dam 3 CCS Could have Cost Less and Been Solar

SaskPower writes about its comparably sized “clean coal” project:

This project transformed the aging [sic] Unit #3 at Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan, Saskatchewan into a reliable, long-term producer of up to 115 megawatts (MW) of base-load electricity, capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, the equivalent of taking more than 250,000 cars off Saskatchewan roads annually.

– Emphasis mine.

Before the Boundary Dam CCS plant was to be built, CBC reported:

The new generating unit will have a capacity of 110 megawatts.

Q: But the sun doesn’t shine every day, and not at night. Clean Coal can be burned any time, right?

A: SaskPower admits:

Our [SaskPower’s] target is to operate [Boundary Dam CCS] for 85% of the hours in the year, leaving room for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.

Outside Las Vegas, see the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project

But a massive new solar plant, sprawling over 1,670 acres near Las Vegas, was designed to solve that problem. It provides energy on demand, even when it’s dark.

“Whether it’s in the daytime or the nighttime, it provides base-load stable power,” says Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, the company that built the new plant. “If you get a bit of cloud cover that goes across at three o’clock in the afternoon, we’re always drawing out of storage, so we continue to operate at 110 megawatts. We don’t miss a beat, and the utility doesn’t see any fluctuations in the power output over the day.”

-Emphasis again mine, to compare to Boundary Dam 3 CCS.

Q: But I thought solar couldn’t provide “baseload”, that’s what SaskPower says?

A: That will teach you how much you can trust a coal-burning utility company influenced by a political party who takes oil company donations.

The CCS plant cost SaskPower, its customers, and Canadian taxpayers $1.5 billion CAD.

Crescent Dunes cost around $1 billion [USD] to build.

At 2012 exchange rates, through to the present inequitable 140%, the most a Crescent Dunes style plant would have cost Saskatchewan for an equivalent CSP plant, would be the same $1.5 billion CAD we instead spent on Boundary Dam 3 CCS. SaskWind projects the CCS plant to lose taxpayers $1 billion in the coming decades, not counting the millions paid in penalties to Cenovus for failing to deliver greenhouse gas to them as promised.

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SaskPower’s Plan Isn’t Ambitious

SaskPower’s new target, announced by the Premier last week, is out.

Saskpower mix by 2030 vs 2015

That’s more wind power than we produce with coal or with natural gas today. Sounds impressive, until you realize that North Dakota did this already:
As of the end of 2014, 1,886 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity had been installed for wind power in North Dakota.

SaskWind also says this is “unambitious”.

1) As noted: Wind energy is cost competitive with natural gas, half the price of coal with carbon capture and significantly cheaper than nuclear. It is the cheapest form of new renewables on the market today.

2) Saskatchewan has a world class wind resource – which is substantially better than the average in both the US and Europe.

3) The European Union and the US expect 23 percent and 20 percent respectively of ALL their electricity to be generated by wind in 2030.

Alberta is heavily dependent upon coal electricity. By 2030, according to their #ABclimate plan, there will be no coal burning for electricity in 15 years. In Saskatchewan, SaskPower promises up to HALF of our electricity will STILL come from fossil sources like lignite coal. That’s a disgrace. We’ve got to stop using, and subsidizing fossil fuels now.

France Has Law To Put Solar or Plants on Rooftops

I was impressed to learn that France had made new commercial buildings do this. I’ve felt badly that new buildings going up all over the University of Regina campus since I started paying attention to it in 1998, haven’t put a single solar panel up on them. There’s a building on Research Dr. with a round skylight that looks like a CD player, that would have been a perfect spot for some solar panels. At least the RIC building in 2006 had a partial green roof built onto its shady side.

RIC