Read this original research on the potential for Alberta communities, large and small, urban and rural, to participate in the province’s renewable energy boom as producers and consumers.
Renewable energy is booming in Alberta—and municipalities, Indigenous communities and community partners have shown a clear desire to take part in developing community generation renewable energy.
But starting up a community generation project is challenging. There are many regulatory barriers and strong competition in Alberta’s deregulated electricity market. Community-scale projects are often smaller and cannot benefit from the same economies of scale enjoyed by utility-scale projects. Without competitive pricing, there are few avenues available to access affordable capital.
Municipalities are also interested in purchasing renewable energy to meet their energy or carbon reduction needs. But even as consumers, most municipalities are similarly faced with uncompetitive pricing due to their weaker puchasing position.
A possible solution: aggregation
Whether we are talking about buying or selling, municipalities could benefit from aggregation—joining together with other communities to gain benefits of scale and overcome barriers faced in isolation.
“Municipal aggregation is a great way to leverage the strengths of different communities… Some communities have strengths in expertise, others have access to capital or location and sites, while others have lots of internal capacity.”Tristan Walker, energy project lead for the Town and Municipal District of Pincher Creek
In spring 2023, the Action Centre and Pembina Institute published Enabling Community Renewable Energy Development Through Aggregation. The result of original research, including surveys and interviews with respondents from three dozen Alberta municipalities, this report provides:
- A summary of Alberta communities’ views on renewable energy procurement
- Example mechanisms for enabling community renewables
- Recommendations for advancing community renewables in Alberta’s market
The report also provides an overview of Alberta’s renewable energy boom and illustrates the groundswell of interest in community renewable energy.
We encourage anyone with an interest in energy affordability, local climate action, renewable energy and rural sustainability to download and read the report.
“If you’re small, you need to be smart, and municipal aggregation is a clever way for smaller communities to come together to access the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy.”Jorden Dye, program manager with the Business Renewables Centre-Canada
Watch the launch of this report with presentations from co-author Benjamin Thibault (Prairie Sky Energy) and special guests Jan Pepper (Peninsula Clean Energy) and Clayton Stafford (Greenplanet Energy Analytics).