Why renewable power?
Global demand for energy sources is dramatically increasing, and renewable power development will be a key part of the transition towards a low-carbon future. We share in the global challenge to tackle climate change head-on by reducing emissions, while continuing to develop and supply energy options that meet future energy needs.
Suncor has an ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goal to reduce carbon intensity by 30% by 2030, and investment in renewable energy is part of the solution. As a large electricity generator and consumer in Alberta and an industry player keenly focused on reducing its carbon footprint, Suncor is eager to work with policymakers, industry partners and other stakeholders to increase investment in renewable power development. Wind and solar power are safe, reliable and emissions-free energy sources and we want to continue to be providers of energy from renewables.
The development of renewable power projects also contributes to Suncor’s long-term social goal to advance relationships and build mutual trust and respect between Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians.
Living the Suncor values
Developing wind and solar projects contributes to Suncor’s GHG emission reduction goals. We recognized the value of renewable energy back in 2002 when we commissioned our first wind power project in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan. Since then, our investments have been primarily focused on wind power across many jurisdictions in Canada, and we continue to evaluate other renewable technologies, including solar.
Over the last 16 years, we have developed eight wind power projects with a gross-generating capacity totaling 395 megawatts (MW), of which we have retained 111 MW of gross generating capacity. The Alberta wind projects alone have produced more than 800,000 carbon credits, that are utilized to offset our carbon footprint in our oil sands business.
Suncor’s continued investment in renewable energy contributes to our social goal and provides opportunities to increase participation of Aboriginal Peoples, communities and businesses within the renewable industry.
The 40 MW Adelaide wind power facility, located in southern Ontario, was Suncor’s first significant equity partnership with a First Nations community. Under the partnership agreement, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation has a 25% interest in the project, and continues to be involved through regular update meetings.
In 2017, the Suncor Adelaide Wind Limited Partnership also sponsored the Southern First Nations Secretariat’s Strong Leadership through Strong Governance program. The sponsored week-long course brought faculty from the Banff Centre for Indigenous Leadership to First Nations leaders in southern Ontario, to build capacity in community governance. By supporting education and training for leaders in Aboriginal communities, Suncor and our partners contribute to strengthening community resilience.
Throughout the development of our renewable energy projects, Suncor engages with local community members in proposed project areas to talk about Suncor, renewable energy, and community needs and concerns. We endeavour to work in an open, respectful and transparent way, engaging with communities early to alleviate and resolve issues.
Our renewable power portfolio
Suncor’s current renewable power portfolio consists of partnered operational projects as well as numerous development opportunities across Canada.
In September 2016, the Ontario government announced a suspension of the second round of the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) II process. Since this announcement, Suncor has refocused its efforts to pursue strategic investments in western Canada, where new renewable power generation targets have been set.
The Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, effective January 1, 2017, committed to phasing out 6,300 MWs of coal-fired generation in the province by 2030, replacing two-thirds of coal-fired production with renewable energy. Associated changes in legislation and market structure have spurred significant investment in renewable energy projects in Alberta.
As part of Alberta’s Renewable Energy Program in December 2017, the first competitive auction process (known as REP I) successfully procured 600 MW of additional renewable capacity. The REP II and REP III programs, announced in February 2018, seek / intend to secure an additional 300 MW and 400 MW of renewable capacity, respectively. In addition, Alberta’s merchant market structure provides the opportunity for renewable and non-renewable projects to be developed outside of the REP programs.
Suncor is excited about the renewable opportunities within the province and is well positioned to participate in the development of future projects. Our renewable development portfolio includes seven wind and four solar sites in southern Alberta, totalling more than 1,000 MW of potential development opportunities. These sites are in various stages of development.
Moving one step closer to meeting the province’s target of 50% renewable power generation by 2030, SaskPower announced a competitive process in 2017 to add 200 MW of wind capacity. Currently, only 3% of the province’s generation is attributed to wind power. For the province to meet its targets for generation from renewables, it needs to procure approximately 1,600 MWs before 2030. These targets present independent power producers with significant opportunities within the province of Saskatchewan.
Suncor is actively evaluating opportunities in Saskatchewan. Our development portfolio in the province of Saskatchewan consists of two wind sites that have the potential to provide an additional 400 MW or more of wind capacity to the grid.
Suncor renewables in your community
Delia Purple Martin Colony – Alberta
In the spring of 2017, Suncor had the opportunity to re-engage with local community members who had some questions and concerns about our proposed Hand Hills Wind Power Project. While attending a community function, a Suncor representative heard about concerns that the project might have a negative impact on a local colony of purple martins (a type of swallow). The colony is located outside the area where consultation is required for regulatory purposes but is still in the vicinity of the proposed wind project.
Suncor representatives met with the concerned stakeholders over the summer of 2017 and visited their purple martin colony to understand the community members’ questions and concerns. Suncor hired a swallow migration expert to review the information about the project and the colony and share his views about potential impacts of the project with the community.
Through this process, we were able to listen to the community and provide expert evidence that there would be a minimal impact on the bird colony.
Gull Lake Winterfest – Saskatchewan
Through our sponsorship activities, Suncor looks for ways to get to know community members. We believe in engaging stakeholders where they naturally gather, in order to share information and gather feedback about our proposed projects, instead of always making stakeholders come to us.
One example of this is Suncor’s annual sponsorship of the Gull Lake Winterfest, which draws community members from both Suncor’s existing SunBridge Wind Power Project and our proposed Shaunavon Wind Power Project. At this annual day-long event in February, Suncor had a booth to share information and receive questions and concerns about our proposed project, volunteered to help serve dinner and sponsored the fireworks show.
Through this opportunity, Suncor representatives met people who were interested in our proposed projects but would not necessarily come out to an open house. It also provided us the opportunity to contribute to the community through volunteering and sponsorship activities.
Youth Opportunities Unlimited in Strathroy – Ontario
In 2017, the Suncor Adelaide Wind Limited Partnership began what we hope will be a long-term relationship with the Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) Next Wave Youth Centre in Strathroy, Ontario. This youth centre, located in the heart of the Adelaide wind power facility’s operating area, is a creative and fun place where youth can get assistance with obtaining work, finishing school, finding housing or getting other support for whatever issues may arise.
Suncor’s contribution in 2017 enabled the centre to address urgent infrastructure needs to keep the building open and fully operational to continue serving youth aged 12 to 30 in our project area. We look forward to our ongoing partnership in 2018 as YOU seeks to build up its social enterprise, Market Quality Preserves (MQP). This program instructs youth on the preparation, production, packaging and sales of various jams, jellies, salsas and spreads. The youth gain confidence in the kitchen while learning life skills and employment skills to help prepare them for their future in the workplace.
Since 2006, Suncor has been making a significant impact in Canada's emerging biofuels industry. We invest in biofuels, particularly ethanol produced from corn. Ethanol is a cleaner burning, renewable resource.
The type of corn used as feedstock has traditionally been used to feed livestock. Once the starches are extracted from the corn to make ethanol, the remaining elements are used to make premium cattle feed.
The ethanol production industry is expanding in Canada and the United States. New government regulations require that a percentage of ethanol be blended into fuels to reduce the environmental impacts of vehicle emissions.
The Pembina Institute conducted a Life Cycle Value Assessment for our St. Clair Ethanol Plant, which estimated that overall CO2 emissions could be reduced by up to 300,000 tonnes per year by blending 10% ethanol from the St. Clair plant into gasoline.