Several Alberta-based clean energy projects will be bolstered by millions in funding from the federal government, but the premier says the feds’ net-zero goals remain far-fetched.
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson announced, during a Monday morning event in Calgary, a total pledge of more than $175 million toward 12 new wind, solar and smart-grid projects in the province.
The funding, made available through the federal government’s Smart Renewable and Electrification Pathways program, is expected to create thousands of jobs, including many in First Nation communities.
“Together these projects will provide 387 megawatts of clean reliable power to Albertans while creating hundreds of jobs and displacing emissions from high-carbon sources,” Wilkinson said. “In fact, these 12 projects are enough to power over 100,000 homes each year while saving the equivalent emissions of taking 150,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road.”
The investment is part of the government’s commitment to developing a net-zero electricity system in Canada by 2035.
Premier Danielle Smith, speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary, said the federal government’s 2035 goal is unrealistic and would require the spending of roughly $144 billion and the subsequent spike in energy costs to offset the spending.
“We’re going to stand firm we cannot do a net-zero power grid by 2035. We think we can by 2050. Some of our producers say it can be done by 2045, so there might be some room for negotiation and discussion there, but we have to have every one of our decisions based in reality.”
Smith also took exception with the International Energy Agency’s oil production projections and described Wilkinson’s Sunday night comments at the congress, based on those projections, as going over like a “lead balloon.”
“To come to a major energy conference, an international energy conference, with people from all different backgrounds, many of them facing energy poverty in their own countries, and talking to producers about the ludicrous IEA projections that were only going to have 25 million barrels of oil per day produced in 2050, it was a bit of a slap in the face,” Smith said.
“I don’t believe that those projections are accurate. I was pleased to see the head of Saudi Aramco said the same thing. The IEA has turned from being an entity that does predictions to being one that engages in political advocacy and I don’t think that’s very helpful to the discussion.”
— with files from Global News’ Craig Momney