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ATCO quintuples renewables assets from 2022 to 2023

Company is on track to exceeding 2030 target for renewables, according to latest sustainability report

An ATCO solar farm that is an example of the company's transition to renewable power. (Courtesy ATCO Ltd.)

Calgary-based engineering and energy company ATCO Ltd. (ACO-X-T) says it boosted its renewable energy ownership, management and development by more than five times from 2022 to 2023 in its latest sustainability report.

Its renewables portfolio grew from 78 megawatts in 2022 to 429 megawatts the year after. Most of its power generation capacity is now renewable, from 24 per cent in 2022 to 63 per cent in 2023.

ATCO has a 2050 net-zero target covering its operations and customers, as well as interim 2030 goals for customer carbon reductions, cutting greenhouse gas emissions intensity per earnings, and gaining a larger portion of its revenue from transition fuels such as hydrogen.

"As we set our sights on the future, we believe that achieving an equitable energy transition is a necessity,” Nancy Southern, the chair and CEO of ATCO, said in the report.

ATCO’s progress on renewable energy

ATCO’s target is to own, develop or manage 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030.

Its efforts to reach that target include:

  • acquiring all of Suncor’s renewables assets in January 2023, growing its wind portfolio from zero to 232 megawatts;
  • starting operations at its Deerfoot and Barlow solar projects in Calgary that produce a combined 64 megawatts of energy; and
  • an agreement that will see Lafarge Canada buying all 39 megawatts of power produced at ATCO's Empress solar facility at the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.

In 2022, ATCO’s power generation capacity was 64 per cent natural gas, 24 per cent renewables and 12 per cent diesel. In 2023, the company effectively reversed those numbers, with renewables making up 63 per cent of its power generation capacity, followed by 31 per cent natural gas and six per cent diesel.

The company now owns, develops or manages 429 megawatts of renewable energy, putting it on track to its 2030 goal, according to ATCO.

ATCO has approximately 1,500 megawatts of solar and wind in various stages of production capacity, it adds.

Its plans call for increasing wind-generated production at the Alberta-based Forty Mile project in 2024, followed by solar power in 2026.

Reducing ATCO’s and its customers’ emissions

ATCO’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2023 stood at:

  • 698 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of Scope 1;
  • 199 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of Scope 2; and
  • 23,409 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of Scope 3 (limited to upstream production and generation and downstream end use that is over 90 per cent of its Scope 3 emissions).

In 2023, ATCO beat its goal of reducing its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions intensity to earnings ahead of schedule, reaching a 32 per cent reduction against a 30 per cent target for 2030. Its 2023 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per $1 million in adjusted earnings (CO2e/$M) was 1.03, compared to approximately 1.2 in 2022.

The company achieved this by notching an 11 per cent reduction in Scope 1 emissions and a 22 per cent fall in its Scope 2 emissions because of lower demand from ATCO Australia’s natural gas power generation, reduced electrical line losses, and a reduced Alberta grid emissions intensity.

Since 2020, its GHG emissions to earnings intensity has decreased by 32 per cent since its 2020 baseline of 1.5 CO2e/$M.

The company has cut operational greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent and its methane emissions by 19 per cent since 2020.

As part of its goal to make 20 per cent of its revenue from transitional products such as renewable natural gas and hydrogen by 2030, ATCO is developing a hydrogen production facility in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. that is planned to produce more than 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2029. The facility will use on-site carbon capture to take more than 95 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions, the report states.

“Ultimately, we believe that a diverse energy mix – with consideration given to regional strengths and weaknesses – alongside investments in energy efficiency and greenhouse gas abatement will be key to achieving our emissions targets,” Southern said in the report.

So far, ATCO makes two per cent of its revenue from transitional products, which puts it on track to its 2030 goal, the company says.

Its customers’ greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 228,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2023, putting it a little over a tenth of the way to its target of two million tonnes by 2030.

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