Companies pushing the development of green energy

With most conversations in the green energy industry looking forward, it is quite often a good idea to take a moment and examine what is currently being implemented here and now. Tracy Stroud, APEX Regional Innovation network manager, spoke on what green energy projects are going into development in southern Alberta and this region.

“Right across southern Alberta, there are quite a few projects under construction right now, both wind and solar,” said Stroud. “These projects, some of them have been in the works for quite some time and some are just getting up and being developed. Some have come through from past government funding, but a lot of the new ones that we’re seeing are actually power purchase agreements, so they are partnering with different companies who want to purchase that green energy. A lot of the power purchase agreements that are in place are with wind and solar. For example, RBC have an agreement 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. There are hundreds of millions of dollars going in right now into wind and solar across Alberta, but especially in southern Alberta.”

After this, Stroud talked about some of the issues they’ve seen come up with this new push for green energy in the province.

“I think within the industry, there’s been changes over the years,” continued Stroud. “I know when wind first started coming into our region about 15 years ago, there were different lease agreements and work with landowners — just to be aware that they did have negotiating power. We work with the farmers’ advocate at that time, just to create a landowners’ guide to energy. I see now they have updated some of their tools, as well for landowners just to be aware of what they should be asking, especially when it pertains to surface rights and things like that. They actually have a guide, it’s called negotiating renewable energy leases. There are some tools like that for farmers to be aware of. I know that they do have bargaining power and what they should be asking for in some of their considerations. I would say that is 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 that’s available. That helps overcome some of those issues.”

Following the initial discussion of green energy, Stroud also talked about the other forms of green energy generation within Alberta.

“So, with geothermal, we see some smaller projects — now nothing big — in our area. I know some of that activity has been stronger closer to mountains, so I can’t really speak to that. There is CanGEA, the Canadian geothermal energy association, so they’re a really good resource on that side. Then for hydro projects, again just small things, but hydrogen presents a pretty big opportunity for Alberta. There’s been a lot of development up by Edmonton with hydrogen that they have, but recently in the southeast, we created a hydrogen task force, and we recently completed a study on that and some of the opportunities it presents.”

Stroud continued this discussion on hydrogen but had it more focused on southern Alberta.

“With hydrogen for a region there are some opportunities with fleet services, but again hydrogen is a newer industry and there’s a lot more development that needs to take place,” said Stroud. “We do produce the third largest amount of hydrogen already in the province in the southeast, so there’s definitely opportunity there. Long-term with some of these renewable projects, if the grid becomes full that could be some potential with micro-generation projects as well, but again, that’s longer-term. We’re still learning about hydrogen and what is possible, but as a cleaburning fuel there seems to be a lot of opportunities there.”

Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times