Saskatchewan's power mix is one of the topics that has come up often with the province making moves to diversify their energy base.

The province gets its energy from a number of sources, and new developments could expand that further.

Garret Sliva, a Senior Mechanical Engineer with the Supply Planning Department at SaskPower, talks about the province's current energy focus.

"Right now our province relies on four main sources of power. Largely in fossil fuels, in natural gas making up almost 39 per cent, and conventional coal, which still makes up 24 per cent of our total power generation capacity. We also have services from hydroelectric producing 21 per cent of our power and wind producing an additional 11 per cent."

 

"These hydro and wind sources and of course solar are considered renewable energy and do not release any greenhouse gases. We also have some other miscellaneous small sources making up the 3 per cent of our power grid, which includes things like coal with carbon capture and storage and other waste heat to energy projects. So SaskPower is on track to reduce our greenhouse gas levels by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030."

Sliva says that SaskPower is aiming for net zero emissions in the future, which means that their power mix will necessarily change.

 SaskPower hopes to let people know exactly what that means so their users are informed during the process.

"We're currently in the process of updating our long-term power supply plan to accommodate this, we're inviting our customers to learn more about the supply options we already use and some that we're also considering for the future. So our team and supply planning is responsible to assess and recommend power generation supply options as well as develop short and long-term supply plans."

 

Sliva laid out the five steps that they're taking throughout this process

  1. Identify how people wanted to be engaged.
  2.  Understand the priorities including reliability, affordability, and environment. 
  3. The future power supply scenario exploration stage, exploring some of the different pathways based on people's priorities from the previous stage.
  4. Releasing a preview of the draft long-term plan. 
  5. Releasing the final report later this month.

Sliva says that the road to net zero for 2050 could take a lot of different turns.

"The important thing to note is there's not really one scenario or one clear pathway that gets us to 2050, certainly not one that's a perfect path today. The plan doesn't pick one specific thing but rather provides recommendations and direction that then influence our near-term or short-term supply plan. This is an iterative process and we continue to update our long-term plan every two to three years as things continue to change and evolve."

 

In the current plan, SaskPower has identified six short-term actions that they'll be taking prior to 2035.

  1. Develop a large natural gas facility with carbon capture and storage as an option to enable a potential in-service date as early as 2033.
  2. Continue to assess the conversion of the core units to operate on a natural gas fuel rather than coal, which will help provide a limited life extension for these facilities.
  3. Continue to assess 4-hour batteries as an energy storage option for the 2028 timeframe.
  4. Continue to investigate forms of longer duration energy storage such as compressed air energy storage and identify the potential that would have for the grid.
  5. Refresh some of the Saskatchewan Hydro projects that show the highest potential for consideration post-2035, largely due to the timeline for these large hydroelectric projects. 
  6. Maintain the current build-out of wind and solar resources and plan to add up to 3000 megawatts of additional wind and solar capacity by 2035.