Construction begins on $50-million clean tech academy in Georgetown

GEORGETOWN, P.E.I. — Ground has been broken on a new clean technology project, which the P.E.I. government plans to make the future home of clean innovation in the province.

A 60-acre zone of tax-free land will be provided for clean technology companies as a destination and will include a 55,000-square-foot learning centre which will house the clean tech academy.

The idea for the park has been in the works since 2019 after Environment, Energy and Climate Action Minister Steven Myers visited the Samsø Energy Academy in Denmark, a leading research facility in the global fight against climate change.

“The centre of the whole transition in Samsø was based on their energy academy which is where the experts of the changes were housed,” Myers told SaltWire Network during an interview on Feb. 15.

“We started looking at what an energy academy could look like on P.E.I.,” he said.

The clean tech academy, as it is currently being called, will offer programs in clean tech education through a joint initiative with Holland College and UPEI, where students can receive a master’s degree upon graduation.

– Steven Myers

The academy will focus on technological invitations in clean technology, as opposed to the UPEI Climate Lab in St. Peters Bay, which is more focused on climate assessments.

“Businesses can put their ideas into an incubator and students can figure them out – if it’s a new wind turbine or a new way to approach solar,” said Myers.

“Or the students can just do that themselves.”

The academy is set to be completed in the fall of 2024 and will cost more than $50 million, a worthwhile investment for the province, Myers added.

“We think the payoffs will be there at the end of it with the opportunities it will create,” he said.

“We can find our own solutions that will help P.E.I. to get to our final targets, but they are also exportable solutions we can be able to send all over the world. Things we’re doing here on P.E.I. are going to spread all over the world.”

• Wind power

• Solar energy

• Hydrogen generation

Greg Keefe, UPEI interim president, told SaltWire Network during an interview on Feb. 22 the new facility is a big step forward for the university's climate change department.

“It’s exciting to see this project advance as the transition to clean energy is an excellent real-world learning opportunity for our students in sustainability,” said Keefe.

“These investments in educating clean tech leaders and innovators are investments for our future."

Holland College president Sandy MacDonald also said in the statement the college is pleased to be involved in the Clean Tech Learning and Innovation Centre, in particular the clean tech academy.

“Together, we will be able to help train the next generation of leaders in terms of clean technologies,” said MacDonald.

“It is a very exciting venture which will pave the way for a healthier, more productive environment.”

In the same release, Premier Dennis King agreed with MacDonald’s comments.

“If we are to make lasting changes in the sustainability of our province, we must connect education, industry and community,” said King.

Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian