10 Solar Energy Facts You Need to Know About Alberta

As the most populous province in Canada, you’ll likely encounter a lot of info re: the energy industry in general in your time here. From the monumental oil sands to the always-busy nuclear sector, there is plenty to keep up with. Here, we’re going to tell you some interesting facts you might not know about the solar energy industry in Alberta – the province, not the city.

1. The Cost of Sending the Mars Curiosity Rover to Alberta Was Predicted to Be Well Below $1 Billion

Last year, the Mars Curiosity rover cost NASA $2.7 billion to develop. It’s been on the Red Planet for almost a year and a half now. According to a 2018 Astrobiology magazine article, the Curiosity rover’s round-trip price tag – including fuel, parking fees, and labor – was predicted to be $870 million. That’s $870 million cheaper than what it would cost to send a human being to Mars. The article states that this was mainly thanks to the Sun and Solar Energy.

Solar energy is a renewable resource and, unlike most forms of renewable energy such as wind or water power, doesn’t require any kind of environmentally disastrous drilling. Basically, it’s just the Sun’s radiation that we’re able to capture and use to power our world. That’s a truly magnificent resource to have available. Imagine being able to provide electricity to every home on the planet for free.

2. The Most Prolific Solar Power Producer In Alberta (And The Country) Was Saleem Ahmad

It might come as a bit of a surprise when we tell you that the most prolific solar power producer in Alberta (and the country) was actually a woman. Meet Saleem Ahmad, who in 2018 became the first Canadian-Arab woman to own and operate a power plant. Her company, SA Power, won the contract to provide energy to the City of Sturgeon Creek in 2017. She already had a large hydropower plant in Sturgeon Creek that provided energy to the town since 2013. That’s seven years of providing power for less than $500,000 per year – which, given inflation and electric rates, amounts to a cost-effective deal.

To put that into context, the next cheapest energy provider that the city had contracts with cost $3,000,000 per year. It’s also the case that SA Power is one of the only solar power producers in Canada that don’t rely on the grid for power, which means that it’s entirely self-sufficient. That means no electricity purchase agreements, which – given today’s energy prices – could save the city a small fortune. Not bad for a small town located in Central Alberta.

3. Saleem Ahmad Saw A Noteworthy Decrease In Battery Costs Over The Years

In an interview with TV News Alberta, Saleem Ahmad stated that battery costs had decreased by roughly 70% since 2010. That’s mainly thanks to the rise of electricity storage, which allows for remote generation and load shifting (RGS + LST). We’ll talk more about this in the next fact.

4. RGS And LST Have A Significant Positive Impact On Alberta’s Energy Strategy

In 2017, the RGS (Regional Green Street) program was given the green light by the Alberta government. This program allows forutilities to enter into 100% renewable power purchase agreements with local governments. Essentially, it’s an incentive for utilities to buy local and clean energy. As you may have guessed, RGS storage has a significant positive impact on Alberta’s energy strategy. It allows for load shifting, which we mentioned above in fact #3. Consider that in 2017, RGS projects accounted for 14.7 GW of the 24.9 GW of power generation in Alberta. That’s a significant chunk of the province’s total power generation. If you’d like to learn more, check out the RGS website.

5. Electric Rates In Alberta Are Some Of The Lowest In Canada

Last year, Alberta’s electricity rates were the lowest in Canada. This year, the price of electricity is expected to rise by 2.4% due to, among other things, the increased cost of fuel. However, experts predict that the higher prices will be more than offset by the low rates of the previous year. According to Natural Resources Canada, the average electricity rate in Alberta was $0.085 per kWh in 201o.

Compare that to the $0.11 per kWh average in 2016 and 2017, and you’ll see a significant decrease in costs. Interestingly, a big reason for the price drop in 2018 is due to green energy, especially solar energy. The cost of generating green power is typically a third to a half of what you’d pay for energy produced by other methods. That’s significant for any green energy market, but it’s even more significant in Alberta, where the cost of power generation is at an all-time high. The increased cost of oil and gas have also driven down the price of electricity – largely due to new technology, efficiency, and alternative sources of fuel.

6. The Cost Of Building A Solar Farm In Alberta Was Predicted To Be Around $0.50/W

If you’re looking to generate your own power, the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out how much wattage you’ll need to meet your needs. The cost of building a solar farm in Alberta was predicted to be around $0.50/W. That’s significantly less than the cost of building a fossil fuel plant. Given that a watt is a unit of electrical power, this means that the cost of generating power with solar energy was estimated to be less than half that of a fossil fuel plant.

7. It’s Pretty Much Certain That China Is The World’s Largest Solar Power Prodcuer

Considering that we’re on the subject of renewable solar power, let’s take a quick look at its global prevalence. Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2018 shows that China produced an estimated 227.3 GW of solar power (excluding small-scale distributed generation). That’s the largest global producer of solar power. Its neighbor to the north, Japan, came in second with a generation capacity of 215.7 GW. Third place was claimed by the United States, with 153 GW. At least 75% of China’s total power generation capacity now relies on solar energy. That’s an incredible change from just a few years ago.

It should come as no surprise that China leads the way in terms of solar power. After all, China is the world’s largest economy and one of the most powerful countries per capita. It also has the most direct access to the energy resources it needs. If you’re looking to generate your own power, China is the place to be. Not only that, but you’ll be able to find a great variety of solar energy technologies – both traditional and alternative – that you can implement to fit your needs. All this from a country that is largely sunny, ensuring that there is always some sunshine when you need it.

8. Traditional Solar Energy In China Was Used To Generate All Of The Country’s Electricity

If you’re looking to generate your own power, you’ll want to consider whether you need traditional solar energy or alternative energy solutions. In terms of cost-effectiveness, traditional solar energy tends to be a better option. Traditional solar energy is generally more common in China and elsewhere in the world. Basically, the solar energy sources that are available and most common are the solar panels that collect sunlight and convert it to electricity via some sort of engine.

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