Assessing Barriers to Renewable Energy Development in Alberta: Evidence from a Survey on Wind Energy with Rural Landowners

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  • Despite having abundant wind resources, the Province of Alberta is slow to adopt wind
    energy. While recent provincial government initiatives have stimulated some new wind power
    projects, progress is limited, and with new regulatory changes in recent months, progress on
    renewable energy development may slow even further. What are the barriers to renewable energy
    development in Alberta? This report offers some answers to this question based on survey results
    from rural Albertan landowners (n = 401). The survey was implemented in early 2019 and offers
    insight into the perspectives of rural landowners who are in a position to host energy
    technologies on their properties. These technologies might include oil and gas wells but also
    emerging technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels. Within the report we explore key
    barriers to the adoption of wind energy infrastructure in Alberta. An energy market analysis and
    literature review reveal few technical barriers, as there is sufficient capacity in the southern
    region, where wind feasibility is highest. The published literature also points to economic
    barriers related to price uncertainty, the competitiveness of other energy sources, and policy
    instability. Looking more closely at social barriers, evidence from the survey indicates that
    landowners are sharply divided in their support for the further development of wind farms in the
    province. Many concerns stem from a lack of knowledge about wind infrastructure impacts, as
    well as issues with the procedures for implementing wind development and the distribution of
    benefits. Encouraging and facilitating future development of wind projects in Alberta will
    require that proponents highlight the environmental and economic benefits of wind farms and
    focus on providing benefits to local communities.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International