Seven solar projects likely to be affected by Alberta renewable regulations

One developer said it will press ahead with its application amid “a period of considerable political and regulatory uncertainty for the renewable sector”.

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Seven solar projects could be affected by the Alberta government’s new renewable energy regulations that prioritize agriculture, including two major developments carrying several hundred megawatts of electricity.

A solar developer says it is awaiting direction from the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), but is moving forward with the project “amid a period of considerable political and regulatory uncertainty.”

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As part of its proposed regulations for the renewable energy sector announced on Feb. 28, the province said it will no longer allow renewable energy development on Class 1 and 2 lands, although exceptions will be made if developers can demonstrate they can There are crops or livestock along with the project. .

The AUC estimates that seven applications are currently proposed on Class 1 and 2 lands, the commission said in an email to Postmedia. (Class 1 and 2 lands are designated as prime agricultural land, meaning they are optimal for growing high-yield crops.)

These include the 300-megawatt Dolcy Solar project in Provost, another 300 MW project from Eastervale Solar Inc., also in Provost, and a 112 MW solar project next to the Edmonton International Airport.

The Logic first reported that several solar projects could be affected by Alberta’s proposed regulations.

It is unclear how projects could be affected by the new regulations because project areas may have a mix of different land classes, the AUC said, meaning some projects could be on a Class 2 portion of land and others they could be entirely located on Class 2. land.

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Developer presses forward despite ‘regulatory uncertainty’

Brookfield’s Sunrise Solar Project, a 75 MW, 500-acre development near Pincher Creek in southern Alberta, is among the projects that could be affected.

Evolugen, a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Partners, estimates that the project will generate 180 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy annually, enough, it says, to power more than 25,000 homes.

The developer announced several changes to the project last December that would reduce the project’s agricultural footprint by 13 percent and distance it from the Pincher Creek city limits.

“With the government’s announcement last week, we are awaiting further guidance from the AUC on the next steps of our project and any additional information required,” Mike Peters, Evolugen’s director of public affairs, wrote in a statement to Postmedia. The developer said it is considering integrating agrivoltaics into its design through sheep grazing.

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“We believe Sunrise Solar is a high-quality project and are committed to advancing it amid a period of considerable political and regulatory uncertainty for the renewable sector.”

Combined, the seven projects would generate 843 MW of renewable energy generation plus 300 MW of battery storage. For comparison, the Travers Solar Project, the largest in Alberta and one of the largest in North America, is capable of producing 465 MW of power.

Travers Solar Project
The Travers Solar Project, west of Lomond, is one of the largest in North America. Mike Drew/Postmedia

When asked if the province has metrics for how it expects the proposed regulations to impact renewable energy development in Alberta, Ashley Stevenson, press secretary for Minister of Affordability and Public Services Nathan Neudorf, directed Postmedia to the minister’s comments. at a press conference on February 28.

Alberta plans to advance its policy and regulatory changes before the end of 2024, Neudorf wrote to the AUC the 28th of February. Meanwhile, the AUC has implemented temporary requirements for renewable project applications, including agricultural effects and the potential for co-location activities, such as grazing or haying, that can be integrated into projects.

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The “agriculture first” approach is included in Alberta’s proposed changes, which would also make developers responsible for recovery costs through a bond or guarantee.

Nathan Neudorf, Danielle Smith and Chantelle de Jonge
Premier Danielle Smith, Minister of Affordability and Public Services Nathan Neudorf and Chantelle de Jonge, MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore, announce the province’s renewable energy development strategy during a news conference at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Wednesday February 28th. David Bloom/Postmedios

According to the most recent AUC data, there were 26 solar projects affected by the renewable energy pause, in addition to one power plant application and one wind plant application. In total, 3,645 MW of renewable generation and 460 MW of storage are in the approval process by the AUC.

The following projects are the seven applications currently proposed to be located on Class 1 and 2 land:

  • Solar City Airport: Planned for construction at Edmonton International Airport, the $169 million, 112 MW project is being managed by Alpin Sun, a large German solar developer with a handful of major projects in Texas.
  • Dolcy Solar: This 300 MW project scheduled to be built in Provost, Alta., comes with 100 MW of battery storage. It is being managed by Calgary-based Westbridge Renewable Energy Corporation.
  • Solar Easter Voucher: The project managed by Eastervale Solar Inc., a subsidiary of WestBridge, is expected to provide 300 MW of power and 200 MW of battery storage. It is expected to be built near Provost, Alta. and has a price of 415 million dollars, according to the province.
  • Solar sunrise: The 75 MW project from Evolugen, a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Partners, is proposed to occupy about 500 acres near Pincher Creek, Alta.
  • Peter Lougheed Solar: The project is owned by PACE Canada and is proposed to be built in the town of Lougheed, located between Camrose and Wainwright in central Alberta. It would come with 30.8 MW of generation.
  • Ponoka Solar: Acestes Power ULC, which is proposing 23.2 MW of capacity, is seeking approval for the project in Ponoka, located just north of Red Deer.
  • Solar Tres Colinas: The relatively small solar project is seeking residency in Three Hills, Alta., where it would bring an additional 18 MW of capacity. Three Hills Power Corp. last September purchased the project from Abacus Power Ltd.

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