Alberta pauses on renewables

Wind and solar are the fastest-growing sources of electricity in the world. 

Too fast, if you ask Alberta. 

What happened: Alberta has paused all approvals for new wind and solar power projects larger than one megawatt for the next six months to close the gaps in current development policies, some of which don’t reflect the realities of a power grid fuelled by renewables.

  • The move is a response to concerns over where projects are built, how they’ll affect the power grid, and who will foot the bill to clean up old wind turbines or solar panels.

  • "Let's just make sure that the ground rules are clearly established, and our governing bodies also have the policies in place," Alberta’s utilities minister told the CBC

Why it matters: The move keeps Premier Danielle Smith on a collision course with the federal government, which is relying on Alberta’s cooperation to cut the country’s carbon emissions by 40-45% by 2030, an ask that Smith said would cripple the province’s economy.

  • Alberts is slowly moving away from fossil fuels. In 2022, 17% of the province's power came from wind and solar, which was above its target to meet its 30% goal by 2030.

  • For comparison, nearly all electricity in Québec and BC is powered by renewable sources, but energy makes up a much smaller percentage of GDP in both provinces.
Bottom line: There are 3,400 megawatts of wind and solar projects under construction in Alberta, worth over $2.7 billion. About 15 larger projects are likely to be affected by the pause, while small projects in local homes and communities can still move forward.—SB