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Alberta premier tells climate conference renewable-powered grid by 2035 ‘fantasy thinking’

Alberta Premier Daniel Smith told delegates at a climate conference in Calgary on Thursday that getting an electricity grid dependent on renewable energy by 2035 is “fantastic thinking.”

Smith said meeting that goal in 12 years could lead to power outages because Alberta would not have a reliable source of baseload energy such as natural gas.

His government is pushing for a net-zero grid by 2050.

“Does anyone think it’s going to be possible to get all the siting decisions, the regulatory agencies, the First Nations, the different levels of landowner consultation, the environmental issues? ? he asked those attending the 2023 Climate Summit in Calgary.

“Yes,” echoed many in the audience, which included clean energy experts from industry, government and academia, as well as indigenous and rural communities.

Smith then asked the audience what they know that his “industry experts” don’t and asked what Alberta will do when there’s no sun and no wind. Someone from the audience shouted. “Batteries”.

“Wind and Solar and Battery Power”

“Let’s talk about batteries for a minute, because I know everybody thinks this economy is going to run on wind and solar and battery power, and it can’t,” Smith said.

“We need legitimate, real solutions based not on fancy thinking, but on fundamental strength.”

WATCH |: Watch the exchange between Prime Minister Daniel Smith and delegates:

Climate crowd reacts to Alberta premier’s skepticism about net zero schedule

Featured videoDaniel Smith had a tough time convincing the 2023 Climate Summit in Calgary that going net-zero by 2035 would be an impossible task.

A spokeswoman for Environment and Climate Change Canada said in an email that the overall federal net-zero target is 2050, the same as Alberta.

“There is actually a major new gas plant coming online that could operate under clean electricity regulations until 2043,” wrote Caitlin Power, referring to the 2035 power grid target.

“The draft regulations are designed for at least 12 years before they come into force, giving time to attract investment and regulate decision-making.

“Because of the flexibility we’ve built, there’s no cliff for natural gas plants. In their current draft form, the regulations would allow 73 existing natural gas plants to continue operating at some capacity in Alberta after 2035, accounting for more than half of baseload. ability.”

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she was concerned about Smith’s message to Albertans.

“When it comes to fantastical thinking, I think that horse is out of the barn with the prime minister,” he told reporters after Smith’s speech.

“Half-truths and disinformation”

Notley said the premier’s “repeated failure from the ground up” was affecting investor certainty and the state’s economy.

“I believe that with science, with concerted effort, with sound public policy, we can do what we want to do in Alberta. We have a history of it and we can do it forward,” Notley said.

“We can’t do that by putting our heads in the sand, putting out half-truths and misinformation and walking away from our role as a leader, and that’s exactly what he’s advocating.”

Smith’s comments at a Calgary climate conference came a day after he called one of the world’s leading energy research institutions “no longer credible.”

The International Energy Agency recently released a report saying that demand for fossil fuels is likely to peak this decade.

Smith said the agency no longer does analysis, pinpoints the results it wants and outlines ways to get there.

He said he prefers to get his information from private sector analysts.

The International Energy Agency has 31 member countries and works with groups such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the G20 and the United Nations to examine its reports, which make headlines around the world.

Keith Stewart, energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, says it’s interesting to see the side of the OPEC prime minister, not the International Energy Agency or climate scientists.

“He may not like what the data tells us about oil demand or climate change, but that doesn’t make it any less true,” he said in an email.

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