Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. says an announced $300-million wind power project located in southeastern Alberta will continue with construction despite the company’s plans to get rid of its wind and solar assets.
The first phase of construction on the Forty Mile Wind Power Project started in April 2021, and was planned to be developed in two phases for a total of 400 megawatts.
On Monday, Suncor said while it still intended to be net-zero emissions by 2050, it would focus on hydrogen and renewable fuels and divest its wind and solar assets.
Sneh Seetal, a spokesperson with Suncor, said that while the Forty Mile Wind Power Project is part of the divestiture plan, construction will proceed.
“Our plan is to continue to work with our contractors and suppliers to complete the Forty Mile Wind Power Project through to construction completion this year,” Seetal wrote in an email.
The project is located in the County of Forty Mile on approximately 20,230 hectares (50,000 acres) of private land, south and east of the town of Bow Island, Alta.
Nathan Ogden, a planner and development officer with the county, said officials haven’t heard much yet about the future of the project.
“We hope that their project can continue on and still be successful in the county,” Ogden said. “There’s been some really positive economic benefits to the region when these kinds of projects proceed.”
Suncor’s decision to get out of the wind and solar business has drawn some criticism from groups like Greenpeace, especially after a new UN report on climate change.
Greenpeace Canada chief energy strategist Keith Stewart said the timing of Suncor’s announcement is akin to “buying Blockbuster stock the day Netflix launches an IPO,” given the report’s identification of wind and solar as essential technologies in the battle against global warming.
Wind and solar are much more advanced compared to hydrogen and biofuel technologies, Stewart said, but the latter have applications within existing engines and in pipelines.
“But that’s not the future of energy,” Stewart told The Canadian Press.
“The IPCC report was basically flashing a big red strobe light at (Suncor), saying wind and solar are where we need to be investing, and they just looked away, put on their sunglasses and said ‘no, we’re sticking with what we know.'”
In its news release issued Monday, Suncor also said it was partnering with ATCO on a “world-scale hydrogen project.”
The company said it would deploy renewable fuel technologies, like Lanzajet’s sustainable aviation fuel technology, and Enerkem’s waste-to-fuels technology.