Appeared in the Star-Phoenix today
Re: SaskPower set to overhaul power grid (SP, Nov. 25).
SaskPower CEO Robert Watson touts a “300-year supply” of coal, as he has since at least 2012, when he used that imprecise figure in a Financial Post article.
A search of the web reveals people using the same “300-year supply” claim since 2010 in Britain and the United States in reference to their coal supplies.
Key words such as “recoverable” and “proven” are not present in Watson’s claim. Many reputable academics estimate world peak coal could come as soon as the 2030s. After then it barely matters if there’s coal available, because the cost will be stratospheric.
A more prudent use of our remaining coal supply is to build an energy technology for the future. There are many renewable options for Saskatchewan, including wind and solar power. Our wind potential is significant, and our solar potential rivals the global powerhouse Germany, as we’re at a similar latitude and get even more sunny days.
I’d prefer that the smart grid Watson talked about included plenty of renewably generated electricity. A compelling story in The Star-Phoenix on Nov. 4 included engineer Brent Veitch, who explained a $20,000 solar electricity system is already able to pay for itself in fewer than 20 years in Saskatchewan.
That seems a smarter investment for homeowners than to buy into Watson’s subsidization of a 20th century fossil-fuelled grid.