With most conversations in the green energy industry looking to the future, it’s often a good idea to take a moment and review what is currently being implemented here and now. Tracy Stroud, APEX Regional Innovation Network Manager, spoke about green energy projects being developed in and around southern Alberta.
“Throughout southern Alberta there are quite a few projects under construction right now, both wind and solar,” Stroud said. “These projects, some of them have been going on for a while and some are just rising and growing. Some have been funded by the government, but many of the new ones we’re seeing are actually power purchase agreements, so they’re partnering with different companies that want to buy that green power. Many of the power purchase agreements that are in place relate to wind and solar energy. For example, RBC has a deal with Blue Earth Renewable, and they partnered with Shopify on that one — the Rattlesnake Ridge wind farm, that’s an example of one of the types of investments. Hundreds of millions of dollars are currently being invested in wind and solar in Alberta, but especially in southern Alberta.
After that, Stroud spoke about some of the issues they’ve seen arise with this new push for green power in the province.
“I think within the industry there have been changes over the years,” Stroud continued. “I know that when the wind started coming to our area about 15 years ago, there were different tenancy and employment contracts with landowners – just to know they had bargaining power. We’re working with the Farmer’s Advocate at the time, just to create an energy guide for landowners. I see now that they have updated some of their tools, as well as to make sure landowners know what they should be asking for, especially when it comes to surface rights and things like that. They actually have a guide, it’s called negotiating renewable energy leases. There are tools like this that farmers need to be aware of. I know they have bargaining power and what they should ask for in some of their considerations. I would say it’s something that — 15 years ago when this industry was brand new, people didn’t know what to ask, so now there are a lot more tools and a lot more information available. This helps overcome some of these issues.
After the initial discussion on green power, Stroud also talked about other forms of green power generation in Alberta.
“So with geothermal, we see smaller projects – now nothing big – in our area. I know some of this activity has been stronger near the mountains, so I can’t really comment on that. There’s CanGEA, the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, so it’s a very good resource on that side. Then for hydroelectric projects, again, it’s just small things, but hydrogen presents a pretty big opportunity for Alberta. There’s been a lot of development in Edmonton with the hydrogen they have, but recently in the southeast we created a hydrogen task force, and we recently completed a study on that and on some of the opportunities it presents.
Stroud continued this hydrogen discussion, but focused it more on southern Alberta.
“With hydrogen for a region, there are opportunities with fleet services, but again, hydrogen is a newer industry and there’s a lot more development that needs to take place,” Stroud said. . “We already produce the third largest amount of hydrogen in the province in the southeast, so there are definitely opportunities there. Long term with some of these renewable energy projects, if the grid is full, that could also be a potential with micro-generation projects, but again, that’s longer term. We’re still learning about hydrogen and what’s possible, but as a clean-burning fuel there seems to be a lot of opportunity there.
Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times