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Alberta’s Last Coal Plant Shuts Down as Natural Gas Takes Over

The last coal-fired power plant in Alberta was shut down on Sunday with the operator likely to convert the generation facility to natural gas following the conversion of its other coal plants.

CBC called the shutdown the end of the coal era in Canada’s oil province.

Alberta first announced plans to phase out coal power generation back in 2015, under Premier Rachel Notley. The plan was to switch off coal by 2030 and now it appears the target has been reached ahead of time, despite serious doubts it could be done.

“It wasn’t long ago that 80 percent of electricity supply in Alberta came from coal; now we are starting to see hours where there is zero coal-fired generation in the province,” University of Calgary economist and electricity expert Blake Shaffer told Canadian media in February when publications were reporting the province’s first coal-free hours as other forms of generation took over.

Another economist called the province’s coal phaseout plan “the largest emissions-reduction policy in Canadian history.” It was indeed quite an undertaking, seeing as back in 2016 there were 18 coal-fired power plants operating in the province and now, less than a decade later, there are zero.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s oil producers have been breaking records. In November 2023, total output from the province topped 4 million barrels daily for the first time ever as companies prepared to start filling the Trans Mountain pipeline, which came into operation against all the odds.

Production is seen rising over the longer term as well, by 15% by 2030, despite the Canadian federal government’s efforts to enforce the energy transition on the local industry. That would mean total oil sands output of 3.8 million barrels daily in that year, from the 3.3 million bpd in average since the start of this year.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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