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Alberta to phase out coal

Provincial government follows low-carbon path set by Prime Minister Trudeau.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Provincial government in Alberta, Canada, aims to phase coal out of its power grid by using more renewable energy resources. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Provincial government in Alberta, Canada, aims to phase coal out of its power grid by using more renewable energy resources. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The provincial government of Alberta, Canada, said it aims to phase out coal by 2030 by adding more renewable energy resources to its grid.

"The plan we have put forward enables us to take real action on climate change, protect our electricity market and responsibly transition away from coal to up to 30 percent renewable energy by 2030," Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said in a statement. "This is good for our environment, good for our image in the world and good for the health of families."

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Alberta's move follows a changing energy landscape ushered in by new Canadian leadership. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, swept into power in October elections, unveiled an investment strategy from the sidelines of a meeting of G20 leaders in Turkey last month that includes dedicated funding for green infrastructure as one of the foundations of a new economy.

The provincial government said moving away from coal will create new investment opportunities in Alberta. Lower crude oil prices are hurting a Canadian economy that depends heavily on oil and natural gas exports. Exports from Canada largely target a U.S. economy that's relying less on foreign reserves because of increased production from shale basins in the Lower 48.

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Al Monaco, president and chief executive officer at Canadian energy company Enbridge, said Alberta needs new transmission infrastructure and financial support to usher in a new era.

"We're encouraged by the potential to be part of meeting what we believe to be ambitious, but achievable, targets for renewable generating capacity in the province," he said in a statement.

Alberta hosts the vast majority of the oil reserves in Canada. Concerns about the emissions associated with the heavier type of crude oil found in Alberta were in part behind a U.S. decision to deny a permit for the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline.

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The provincial government said oil sands accounted for nearly 10 percent of all Canadian greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, the last full year for which data are available. In the 10 years ending in 2012, producers cut their per-barrel emissions by an average 28 percent.

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