Renewable Energy Policy Planning in Alberta – Canada
Betreuer / supervisor:
Dr. Tim Weis (University of Alberta)
The initiation and development of mitigation strategies and sustainability patterns are in agenda for the majority of economies around the globe, from industrial world to emerging economies and developing countries. Oil-rich jurisdictions, as a sort of definition that can be seen in any type of economies, are paving the sustainability path and picking mitigation strategies in order to meet their local conditions amid serving their international image. Renewable energies and their introduction to oil-rich economies have experienced diverse kind of developments around the globe. Oil-dominant economies, through their institutions, have obtained different results out of their renewable energy policies. The role of rent coming from natural resources as well as the character of local political and economic institutions toward renewable energy policy planning have led to a series of economic/industrial/political development patterns that are likely to be unique for such economies.
When an oil-rich jurisdiction invests in renewables, the most common phenomenon is to wonder why such an economy should invest in a source of energy that with no doubt burden more weight on its back! Why oil money (oil rent) should finance green development? Isn’t it that they, on paper, should be each other’s opponent! There is absolutely no one-word answer to this question, however, each jurisdiction may have different drivers that lead it to invest in renewables, from energy security to diversification, from social license and image making to international responsibilities and so on. Nevertheless, they all have one in common; it is mainly the oil rent that is backing their renewable energy projects, direct or indirect.
This research focuses on Alberta, as one of the most recent oil-rich jurisdiction in the world, that its renewable energy practice has been unique too. Being Canada’s most resource rich province, Alberta poses a decisive role in oil and gas production in North America. Despite having a fully liberalized market, Alberta has all the traditional trade-marks of an oil dominated economy, through its largeness government expenditure, perpetual economic boom and bust cycle, one party rules for long, lowest income/corporate tax in Canada, single sale tax free province in the federation and so on. (All of these elements can be observed in most of other oil-rich jurisdictions around the globe.) At the meantime, the same province has been the first jurisdiction in Canada to levy carbon price, had been recognized for a long as the pioneer of wind energy in the country, running one of the major renewable energy fuel programs in the federation, and last but not least being the forerunner to let independent power producers have access to the grid. Having these different, if not contradictory, images in mind, makes Alberta an interesting case study in term of being an oil-rich green medalist jurisdiction whose interest/support to renewables fluctuates drastically over time!
To understand and analyze the boom and bust cycle of renewable energy development in Alberta, this research is to investigate well the way renewables have been practiced in the province, their drivers, and obstacles. The puzzle in which this research is trying to explain is why renewable energy interest/support, as an alternative, comes in and out of agenda in Alberta.
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