Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NewsTalk 650 online poll shows overwhelming support for landfill wind turbine project in Saskatoon

I noticed that NewsTalk 650, a local talk radio station in Saskatoon, Canada conducted an online poll yesterday morning asking if the proposed wind turbine at the City of Saskatoon landfill should proceed. This project will be one of only a few large-scale projects in the world to reclaim a significant area of municipal solid waste to generate clean electricity from the wind. As I watched the results of the poll yesterday morning, the numbers in support were quickly increasing and were at 65% when the survey was unexpectedly pulled off the website at around noon.

Contrary to what well-known Saskatchewan political commentator John Gormley may say, those of the conservative persuasion likely to be listening to NewsTalk 650, seem to overwhelmingly support the wind turbine at the landfill. There is clearly broad non-partisan support for renewable energy in Saskatoon and the people of Saskatchewan should be wary about others telling them otherwise in order to increase the number of listeners to their radio station.

Last week Statistics Canada released a report concluding that for the first time ever, Saskatchewan passed Ontario in average weekly earnings. Instead of blindly following Ontario and politicizing renewable energy as happened in the recent Ontario provincial election, let's take a leadership role in developing our energy resources. There is broad non-partisan consensus in Saskatchewan that we should develop our energy resources, whether wind, coal, oil, natural gas or uranium. Leadership means building on consensus and doing what is best for the people of Saskatchewan - the wind turbine project at the landfill is a critical first step in taking that leadership role.

Battle of the uranium titans – Cameco drops bid for Hathor – opens door for Rio Tinto to enter the Athabasca basin in Northern Saskatchewan

Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp. has dropped its bid to take over Hathor Exploration Ltd., leaving mining giant Rio Tinto to acquire the junior mining company. Cameco and Rio Tinto had been in a bidding war for Hathor, which controls the uranium-rich Roughrider deposit in Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin, since Cameco made a hostile bid for the company in August. Both companies upped their offers for Hathor, with Rio offering $654 million, or $4.70 a share, on November 17, 2011. Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said Rio's offer was too steep to counter.

"We've been working on this project for many months," Gitzel said. "When we went into it, we set certain parameters. We wanted to remain disciplined throughout the process ... Having to top ($4.70) would have gone outside our parameters and that is why we decided to withdraw."

The Roughrider deposit has a current resource of about 58 million pounds of uranium, but it is expected to grow through more drilling. For Rio Tinto, it will be the company's first endeavour into the Athabasca Basin.

Gitzel said Cameco is still committed to doubling its production to 40 million pounds by 2018 from 20 million pounds today.

"We still have our 'Double U' strategy, as we call it, firmly in place," Gitzel said. "We have a lot of work to do in Saskatchewan and around the world to achieve our 40-million pound production goal by 2018."

He said Cameco has a number of other projects that will help it meet its goal.

"The jewel is right here in Saskatchewan, our Cigar Lake mine, that we have been working on for many years now," Gitzel said. "We anticipate first production in mid-2013. That mine, once at full production, will produce 18 millions pounds per year. Probably next to McArthur River, which is also our project in Saskatchewan, it will be the second largest mine in the world."

The bidding war for Hathor also shows there is strong interest in the sector, he said.

"I think the interest shown by Rio, Cameco and other companies shows there is a strong future for uranium. We know that energy needs in the world continue to increase rapidly and we know that nuclear power is going to play an important role in that."

Gitzel estimates there will be 93 net new reactors in the world by 2020.

"That's to add to the 430 that exist today," he said. "Those will all need new uranium and that's why we are so aggressive with our 'Double U' strategy to double our production from 20 million pounds from where we are today to 40 million pounds so that we can supply that new demand."

Source: Star Phoneix November 29, 2011 edition, Scott Larson

Northland Power inks Master Module Supply Agreement to purchase Ontario-made solar PV panels from MEMC

Northland Power Inc. announced that it has signed a Master Module Supply Agreement with MEMC Singapore Pte. Ltd, an affiliate of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. to purchase solar PV modules that will be manufactured in Newmarket, Ontario for its 130 MW Ontario solar portfolio. The modules will be used as part of an approximately $600 million CAD investment by Northland to build ground-mounted solar projects in Ontario, representing one of the largest investments in Ontario's solar PV sector.

Earlier this year, MEMC began manufacturing solar PV panels in Ontario for SunEdison, its solar energy subsidiary, in order to help the company meet the 60% domestic content requirements of the Ontario FIT program. In July 2011, MEMC announced the expansion of production with its manufacturing partner, Flextronics.

Northland operates over 1,000 MW of diversified generation, and is actively developing renewable and thermal projects across Canada. Northland's operating thermal power assets include, among others, the 86 MW Spy Hill peaking facility in Saskatchewan as well as 260 MW North Battleford project which is currently under construction in Saskatchewan.

Monday, November 28, 2011

US streamlines approvals for First Nations renewable energy projects

The U.S. Interior Department plans to require the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve leases for renewable energy projects on land held by American Indians unless the bureau can show why the proposals should be rejected within two months. Under the proposed rules, the bureau would have to approve leases unless it finds a “compelling reason” not to do so, the department said today in a statement. The bureau would have 60 days to evaluate industrial development and renewable-energy projects, and 30 days to consider residential leases.

The rules would apply to leases for solar projects, wind farms, commercial development and residential use on 56 million acres of American Indian lands, about the size of the state of Utah, the Interior Department said. They don’t cover leases for oil, natural gas, mining or other sub-surface development projects. “The proposed changes are the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in the statement.

The changes are intended to “streamline” the lease- approval process, which has no deadlines and can drag on for years, the Interior Department said.

Source: Bloomberg

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Canadian miners using renewable energy to cut energy costs at mines – Barrick, Rio Tinto & Teck leading the way

Mining companies use huge amounts of energy to build and operate a mine. Energy represents about 25% of production costs for mines and many mining companies are making huge long-term investments in wind, solar and other renewable energy projects to cut expenses and clean up their operations. Companies such as Barrick Gold Corp., Teck Resources Ltd. and Rio Tinto PLC have ambitious wind-farm projects under way at their mining sites that will reduce energy costs and provide the much-needed social benefit of showing the communities where they work that progress is being made to reduce their environmental footprint.

Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest gold miner, is pushing ahead with alternative energy projects and has just commissioned its $70 million CAD Punta Colorada wind operation, the first wind farm built by a mining company in Chile. The site has 10 turbines generating 20 MW, with capacity to expand to 18 turbines and produce 36 MW. The operation connects to a power substation that supplies energy to Chile’s national power grid. Barrick is credited for the power it contributes to the system. Barrick also has a $8.5 million CAD wind turbine in Argentina that provides up to 20% of electricity needs for its Veladero mine. The wind projects come alongside smaller solar and biodiesel projects Barrick is working on.

Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. just announced this month that it will construct a wind farm at the site of its Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories, said to be the largest wind farm at an operating mine when the turbines start up later next year. It will be the first large-scale wind farm in the Northwest Territories in Northern Canada and special technology was created to allow the wind farm to operate in –40 C temperatures on the site on East Island at Lac de Gras. Diavik, which is owned by Rio Tinto and Harry Winston Diamond Corp., said it will build four 2.3 MW turbines with a capacity of 9.2 MW. The mine currently relies on diesel fuel, and the wind farm is expected to reduce that consumption by 10%. The wind farm will cost up to $30 million CAD to build, but is expected to save the company about $5 million CAD in diesel costs each year, according to Corey McLachlan, Diavik’s superintendent of government and external relations.

Teck, Canada’s largest diversified mining company, made its first investment in wind energy last year by partnering with Suncor in the Wintering Hills development, an 88 MW wind project with 55 turbines near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. Operations are set to begin in January, 2012. Teck’s share of the energy generated represents more than 1.5 times the annual power consumption at its Cardinal River coal operations in Alberta, according to the company’s latest sustainability report. Teck will also receive carbon credits to offset emissions from the mine under the emissions offsets program in place in Alberta. Saskatchewan also has emissions offset trading legislation similar to that in Alberta which the government can bring into effect anytime. It is clear from the Teck project in Alberta, this is an important regulatory piece of the puzzle to allow miners to both cut their costs and generate clean energy to power their mines. I’m hopeful the government in Saskatchewan will understand this and implement the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Act in the near future.

According to the Government of Saskatchewan there are currently 38 operating mines in Saskatchewan, none of which have yet undertaken renewable energy projects to cut their production costs. There are another 10 large mining projects under development in the province, including the BHP Billiton Jansen project which will be the world’s largest potash mine. BHP Billiton has said informally they have plans for another 4 or 5 potash mines in the province. Claude Resources is also working on developing a large gold mine in North-East Saskatchewan near the city of Flin Flon, Manitoba. As the price of building renewable energy drops and energy costs increase, mining companies are now realizing that they can save considerable amounts of money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce their environmental footprint in local communities by building renewable generation at their mine sites. The additional generation will also be welcome by SaskPower, the provincial utility in Saskatchewan, where demand is rapidly increasing. I am not a mining executive (though that would not be a bad gig) but it seems like an obvious win-win-win situation for the mining company, local communities and the utility. Given the increasing strength of the mining industry in Saskatchewan, I am looking forward to seeing which mining company is the first to develop a renewable energy project at their mine site in the province.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

U of S leading the way in next generation solar PV cells

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada are working to develop more efficient and cheaper photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that could help solve global energy problems.

Chemistry Professor and researcher Ron Steer thinks he has found a way to turn traditionally brittle and inefficient organic cells into robust, sturdy sources of energy.

“We have proof of our principle that indicates we can make a more affordable and reliable cell, but how efficient will the cells be compared to ones that already exist, that’s the part we’re hoping to succeed with. If we can achieve even the slightest increase, even one or two per cent efficiency of these cells, it could be beneficial to everyone.”

Making the cells more efficient is a matter of converting the spectrum of light.

“Essentially, if you take blue light in the visible part of the spectrum, this works well in solar cells. If you take infrared, this does not work well. So, what we’ve discovered is a way to convert the infrared light into blue light.”

His work is taking place in the southern part of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan where more hours of sunlight are available than anywhere else on the planet. Along with parts of southern Alberta, these regions receive around 2,500 hours of bright sunshine per year, or about 1361 KwH.

The next steps in the process will be creating cells and testing the research principles. If the cells work, it could revitalize the solar PV industry and turn the sunniest place on the planet into a working grid of solar energy.

Source: University of Saskatchewan Press Release. To find out more about Professor Steer's research into organic solar cells, contact Mark Ferguson at the University of Saskatchewan at + 1 306 966 1851 or m.ferguson@usask.ca.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cameco continues battle with Rio Tinto for Hathor’s uranium deposit in Northern Saskatchewan: How far will Cameco go to keep Rio Tinto out?

Saskatoon-based Cameco is the world’s largest uranium producer and is bidding for control of junior uranium miner Hathor’s Roughrider deposit in northern Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Rio Tinto is the world’s third-largest mining company and if successful in their bid for Hathor are expected to follow other mining giants like BHP Billiton and open up shop soon in Saskatoon. The bidding war is playing out as developing nations from China to India turn to nuclear power to meet energy demands in the world’s fastest-growing economies. China has 14 reactors, 27 under construction and 51 more planned, according to the World Nuclear Association’s website. India has six under construction and 17 planned, while Russia has 10 being built and 14 more in the pipeline.

“This is like two bullies in a parking lot and guessing when they are going to stop fighting,” Barry Allan, senior mining analyst at Mackie Research, said in a telephone interview for Bloomberg. “The chances of Cameco coming back with another offer are pretty high. It’s become less about value and more about strategic significance. The world has recognized it’s very difficult to live without nuclear energy.”

After the epic failed bid by BHP Billiton bid for Saskatoon-based PotashCorp in summer 2011, Saskatchewan and the city of Saskatoon in particular, have been the parking lot of choice for mining giants to duke it out over the future of the vast natural resources in Canada. Newly appointed Cameco CEO, Tim Gitzel who, like myself, recently relocated back home to Saskatchewan after living and working in Europe for many years has his work cut out for him. My feeling is that in typical prairie fashion, Mr. Gitzel will skilfully and respectfully put together a joint bid by Cameco and Rio Tinto so that Rio Tinto can take advantage of Cameco’s experience with Saskatchewan’s geology and Cameco can prolong the profitability of its nearby mill.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is the credit worthy test for renewable energy procurement in Ontario, worthy? Why the OPA should look to Saskatchewan for guidance

I attended the APPrO 2011, annual Canadian power conference this week in Toronto put on by the Association of Power Producers of Ontario. I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Stephen Somerville of Competitive Power Ventures entitled “Analysis of the rated criteria used for project assessment in procurement”. Mr. Somerville raised an interesting point about the Ontario procurement process versus the Saskatchewan procurement process. In Ontario, power procurement RFP’s use a credit worthy test which requires additional commitment letters and other documentation from proponents using private equity to finance the project. This has the unintended effect of discriminating against IPPs which are primarily funded through private equity. On the other hand, the current SaskPower RFP for 175 MW of wind does not include a credit worthy test which discriminates against IPPs using private equity. Mr. Somerville went on to state that the credit worthy test used in Ontario is not a good indicator of near term future performance as no one knows what the economic position of the corporate entity will be three years in the future. The SaskPower RFP for 175 MW for the most part avoids forecasting into the future to establish credit-worthiness and instead requires existing financial data. Mr. Somerville concluded that project level security should be enough – which, in some procurement processes, I would agree with. The US will qualify respondents based on demonstrated funding experience and don’t even include a specific credit worthy test in many renewable energy RFPs. Maybe it would be beneficial for the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to take a few notes from other jurisdictions like Saskatchewan in regard to the credit worthiness provisions of competitive renewable energy procurement RFPs?

Monday, November 14, 2011

US to site renewable energy projects at landfills - City of Saskatoon leading the way

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have jointly announced plans to evaluate the feasibility of siting solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal facilities on 26 Superfund sites and former landfill and mining sites. The EPA is providing $1 million USD in technical assistance to conduct the feasibility studies at the sites, according to Lura Matthews, who heads the agency’s "RE-Powering America’s Land" project. "Owners of the sites are mixed; a lot of them are municipal governments, and some are privately owned," Matthews told the audience at the PV Power Generation Mid-West & East conference in New York City during the week of November 7, 2011. The sites, which are in various stages of assessment or cleanup, do not need to be completely remediated before renewable energy development can begin on them, she added. "If they are cleaning groundwater on the site, for example, there may still be part of the site where you can put solar panels."

Saskatoon Light & Power issued an RFP on November 8, 2011 for a utility-scale 2 MW wind turbine at the municipal landfill in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada as part of the new Green Energy Park. The RFP closes December 8, 2011. The site will be only the third in the world to construct a utility scale wind turbine with a floating foundation on top of municipal solid waste - the other two projects are in Boston and Germany.

Source: (in part) Climate Change Business Bulletin

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Canada at the centre of global energy disputes

Given the increasing importance of both conventional and renewable energy, global competition is intensifying and Canada seems to be at the centre of many of the disputes unfolding.

1. Canada v. the EU - The oilsands

An EU proposal that would discourage use of oil from tar sands by classifying it as dirtier than other types of oil has angered Ottawa and could result in a case at the WTO. Canada argues that oil sands crude is no dirtier than oil from Russia and Nigeria, which would be treated more favorably under the EU's green fuel law.

2. Canada v. the US - XL pipeline

Oilsand are also at the center of an environmental decision now facing the Obama administration in the US. TransCanada Corp. hopes to build the proposed $7 billion USD Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude from oil sands in Alberta (and at some point Saskatchewan) to Texas refineries. Although technically not a dispute, its outcome would have a profound effect on US-Canada relations in the energy sector.

3. Canada v. EU and Japan - Local green energy subsidies

Both Brussels and Tokyo have challenged the domestic content requirements of the FIT program in Ontario. The EU and Japan claim such domestic content requirements are prohibited under WTO rules.

4. Canada (+ 25 other nations) v. EU - Carbon emissions permits

A European Union plan aimed at curbing carbon emissions by requiring airlines to buy pollution permits to offset greenhouse gas emissions from their planes has run into strong opposition from the United States, China, Canada and about two dozen other countries.

Friday, November 4, 2011

500 MW solar PV plant proposed in Namibia

Regular readers of this blog will now that I have followed Namibia closely noting the considerable untapped opportunities for renewable energy development in the Southern African country.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com and Climate Change Business Journal just reported the following:

SSI Energy Solutions (SSIES) out of Washington, D.C. has announced that they have reached an agreement with the government of Namibia to build a 500 MW solar PV power plant near the capital city of Windhoek. SSIES, which is currently seeking an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the project, is exploring the possibility of expanding the facility’s capacity to 1 gigawatt (GW) and adding wind power capacity as well. According to SSIES, the construction costs for the initial 500 MW will range from $1.6 billion USD to $2 billion USD.

I have experience working in Namibia and assisted a client to draft and execute contracts to acquire 6155 hectares of land suitable for wind or solar PV development in the country. The development opportunities in Namibia for wind or solar PV developers, solar PV EPC contractors and suppliers is clear and will be accelerated by this new 500 MW solar PV project.

Clean coal in Canada – a look at the Goldsource and ZEEP project in North-Eastern Saskatchewan

The province of Saskatchewan has some of the best wind, solar, biomass and geothermal resources in Canada but Saskatchewan also has a significant coal resource. Goldsource Mines Inc. (Goldsource) has been developing the thermal coal resources in North-Eastern Saskatchewan near the town of Hudson Bay and has a 79.1 million tonnes indicated, 34.9 million tonnes inferred and 61.1 million tonnes speculative resource. The coal is well-suited to thermal generation of electricity but the very significant greenhouse gases (GHG) generated from thermal coal has significantly limited the demand for such coal. The federal government in Canada has also restricted any new coal electrical generation facilities in the country. There are some very limited opportunities for export abroad but countries like China and India, where demand for generation is increasing significantly, are firmly focused on renewable energy generation – not coal fired thermal generation which they are also shutting down.

Challenges with monetizing the value of coal assets

Goldsource clearly has a significant coal resource in Saskatchewan but in order to monetize the asset requires a method to manage or eliminate the GHGs generated – enter Zero Emission Energy Plants Ltd. (ZEEP). ZEEP commercializes and deploys gasification technologies to use coal or biomass to generate synthetic gas which can be converted to various end products, including electricity, with minimal or zero GHG emissions. Goldsource and ZEEP have proposed an arrangement whereby Goldsource becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of ZEEP. It appears Goldsource has found a suitable dance partner.

What are Goldsource and ZEEP up to in North-East Saskatchewan?

I suspect Goldsource and ZEEP have short-term plans to develop the coal resource, mid-term plans to develop a mine and long-term plans to finance, build and operate a large-scale clean energy facility in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a vast and largely unpopulated province and a very mining-friendly jurisdiction with clearly articulated regulations and a long history of successfully developing mining projects with developers. Goldsource and ZEEP could develop an on-site coal to liquids facility or a clean coal electrical generation facility.

What are some of the challenges Goldsource and ZEEP are facing?

1. Push-back from the public. There will be push-back from the public in developing a new coal mine in the province which will make securing the necessary provincial government permits and approvals more difficult. When Goldsource and ZEEP sit down with the provincial government, they may need to negotiate and execute an agreement whereby Goldsource and ZEEP represent and warrant that any coal extracted from the mine will not contribute to GHG emissions in Saskatchewan. Depending on the push-back from the public, Goldsource and ZEEP may have to broaden this to Canada or possibly agree to a complete limitation on any GHG emissions from the coal extracted.

2. “proven project”. To agree to such representation and warranty regarding limitation of GHGs, it will be necessary to have “proven technology” which it seems ZEEP has, but ZEEP has not yet completed development of any similar large-scale gasification plants – the first would be in Saskatchewan. Securing financing for an unproven project which will require very significant amounts of capital may be difficult.

3. Location. This part of North-Eastern Saskatchewan North of Hudson Bay until the Carrot River Valley at The Pas, Manitoba is largely pristine, undeveloped boreal forest and there will be some opposition from the public and First Nations to developing a coal mine here. In addition, the provincial government is planning a new provincial park in North-East Saskatchewan which may also pose some challenges. That being said, assuming the aforementioned challenges can be surmounted, my view is that the location is very suitable as it is near a major highway, railway and service community.

4. First Nation Participation. There does not appear to be planning for or active First Nation participation or involvement in this project which will be a very significant challenge. The Red Earth First Nation and Shoal Lake Cree Nation are both located in close proximity to this project.

5. Power Purchase Agreement. If the aim is to generate electricity, this project is contingent on getting a PPA from SaskPower (the monopoly utility in Saskatchewan).

The Goldsource/ZEEP clean coal project is certainly one of many interesting clean energy projects in Saskatchewan. I am optimistic that Goldsource and ZEEP can overcome these, and the inevitable host of other, challenges which will arise and get this project built.

Goldsource announced this morning that they will extend the closing date of the business combination of Goldsource and ZEEP to December 31, 2011.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

California adopts cap-and-trade program – $10 billion USD in market anticipated by 2016 – Pressure mounts on Saskatchewan to comply

The US state of California has formally adopted a comprehensive cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. After a hearing on October 21, 2011 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved the final draft of the plan as a central element of California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a measure that mandates reductions of GHG emission the state to 1990 levels by 2020. The cap-and-trade system targets sources accounting for approximately 85% of annual GHG emissions, with electric power plants and other heavy emitters required to begin compliance in 2013 and other sources scheduled to begin compliance in 2015. California's carbon market is expected to reach $10 billion USD in value by 2016, according to CARB, which will manage the market and hire an auction host and market monitors.

The California cap-and-trade program is working closely with six other western US states and British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec through the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) to roll out a regional program. Saskatchewan is not a “partner” in the WCI but is an “observer” and has expressed some reservations (along with Alberta) regarding a cap-and-trade system. Notwithstanding, Saskatchewan has a provincial offset trading system ready to implement. The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act has already passed third reading in the Saskatchewan provincial legislature in May 2010 and can receive Royal Assent and enter into force anytime. It is anticipated that the adoption of the wide-reaching and comprehensive California cap-and-trade program will put increasing pressure on Saskatchewan to implement an emissions trading system in the province in the near future.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Could independence for Scotland hinder the push toward renewable energy? Valuable lessons from the Canadian Province of Québec

The BBC is reporting that a recent report by Citigroup concluded that a proposed referendum on independence in Scotland would "create huge uncertainty" over investment in renewable energy in Scotland at precisely the moment when big investment decisions on renewable energy projects will need to be taken. The report takes the position that an independent Scotland would have too small a consumer base to generate the annual subsidy of 4 billion GBP, which they believe would be needed to support a hugely increased reliance on renewable energy. The Citigroup report goes on to state that "continued subsidy from consumers in England and Wales would be required, but Scotland seceding from the UK would clearly place this subsidy stream at grave risk. Renewable investors risk seeing their assets stranded in a newly independent Scotland." The Citigroup report concluded that "utilities and other investors should exercise extreme caution in committing further capital to Scotland." Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond dismissed concerns in the report and noted that much of the renewable energy produced in Scotland would be for export and would help "keep the lights on" in England.

There are many parallels between the Canadian province of Québec and Scotland: both have had or are considering referendums on independence; both are undertaking or proposing very considerable investments in renewable energy; both lack the domestic consumer base to utilize the generation; and both currently or propose to export most of the generation to a much larger neighbouring jurisdiction (Quebec to the USA and Scotland to England). In 1995, Québec had a referendum on independence which was narrowly defeated and the people of Québec voted to stay in Canada. Following the referendum, Hydro-Québec (the monopoly provincial utility in Québec) embarked on a very ambitious plan to develop renewable energy which has resulted in Hydro-Québec becoming a global leader in renewable energy providing tremendous benefits to both the province and all of Canada. Hydro-Québec is currently in the process of launching hydroelectric projects to create an additional 4,500 MW of generating capacity involving new investment of around $25 billion CAD and the creation of roughly 70,000 jobs over 10 years. Hydro-Québec is also on track to develop 4,000 MW of wind by 2015.

Clearly the decision by the people of Québec to remain an integral and important part of the larger Canadian economic market provided the foundation for the enviable position Hydro-Québec is in now. I am not sure this would have been possible in an independent Québec or if there was uncertainty regarding the political future of the province and its role in Canada.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) proposed in Saskatchewan

As the provincial election in Saskatchewan on November 7, 2011 draws near the Saskatchewan Green Party has promised in their election platform that “green MLAs will move to create a fixed feed-in tariff system to incentivize green energy growth in Saskatchewan.” Although the Saskatchewan Party was done a good job of developing renewable energy in Saskatchewan, this will inevitably put some additional pressure on the winner of the provincial election to focus on developing a policy that further promotes renewable energy in the province.