Meantime, SaskPower Must Consider Solar #skpoli

Three years ago, SaskPower VP Judy May promised me that her Crown Corporation would consider solar power once “large-scale solar installations become more economical”.

By and large, utility industry experts agree that when compared to other renewable sources solar is a high cost generation option for utilities in the Northern Hemisphere.

Meantime, SaskPower has programs available to encourage the development of environmentally preferred technologies, including solar.

-SaskPower Vice President, Corporate Relations, Judy May, January 2012

Regina panoramic

Flash forward 3 years to the news of 2015.

How many months will we wait for SaskPower to consider a $1,300,000,000 investment (or more) into industrial scale solar, as they recently completed the CCS project in Estevan for that amount to burn coal?

History has shown that if we wait for SaskPower to lead on this investment, it won’t happen. We need political pressure on the Crown Corporation to stop burning coal which kills people with reduced air quality. Following the year 2000 study in PV solar, SaskPower wrote the following for its website, which is no longer true, “At present, solar power is not suitable for large-scale generation in Saskatchewan because of its high cost and low capacity factors.” They removed that out-of-date blurb after I brought it to their attention only 3 years ago.

Dear Mr. Klein,

Thank you for your interest in solar power generation in Saskatchewan.

To answer your question about the photovoltaic array at the Saskatchewan Science Centre (installed in 2000), our most recent data (2013) show the following:

Rated power: 2,800 watts
Capacity factor (nominal year average): 7.8%
Nominal gross output: 1,913 kilowatt hours (KWhr)

SaskPower is making significant financial investments to rebuild, upgrade and modernize the province’s aging electricity system. This includes finding cleaner ways to power our growing province. We’re fortunate here in Saskatchewan to have a number of available generation options and we consider each of them, including carbon capture and storage, natural gas, hydro, wind and other renewables.

When making decisions about generation options, SaskPower balances cost, environmental impact, and reliability. While costs for solar are indeed coming down as you point out, cost continues to be one of the major barriers to large-scale solar projects that could supply bulk power to the provincial grid. To better understand the economics and operability of solar, SaskPower is investigating the feasibility of a utility scale solar demonstration project as a means of evaluating the viability of this option for Saskatchewan.

Meantime, solar technology is best-suited for residential and/or small commercial customers who wish to self-generate electricity, or for off-grid applications. SaskPower encourages the development of small-scale solar, and other clean energy technologies, through our Net Metering and Small Power Producer Programs. Through these programs over 300 homes and businesses {John’s note: Less than 300 according to SaskPower in the Star Phoenix only a few months ago.} use solar to supplement the electricity they receive from SaskPower.

Thanks again for your interest.

Brian Mohr, P.Eng, B.E. |Director, Sustainable Supply Development Resource Planning|SaskPower| 2025 Victoria Avenue, Regina SK S4P 0S1

Meantime, I think the people of Saskatchewan are going to have to pressure our Crown Corporation to invest in renewable energy in a way that people cannot do individually. We could have ~100% renewable electricity in Saskatchewan by the end of this decade. (Technologically, this is possible. Politically, probably not going to happen.)


About John Klein

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