As we recently covered, there are now more Canadians working in ‘green’ jobs than there are in the oil & gas industry.
And while you might expect Alberta to remain a stronghold for the latter, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the province is cleaning up its act.
Case in point: a 30-hectare solar field along the Trans Canada Highway outside the city of Brooks.
The Brooks project, as its called, launched last week as the first utility-scale solar facility in Western Canada. It is just one of several green energy projects in a province slowly weening itself off of coal. Comprised of 50,000 solar panels, the Brooks project has the potential to power around 3,000 homes.
“Solar energy will ramp up considerably in Alberta in the coming years and this project will help start that momentum,” said Jamie Houssian, principal of Elemental Energy, the investment firm behind the project. “The execution of Brooks Solar … represents an important renewable energy milestone for Alberta.”
With a price tag of $34 million, it produces 15 megawatts of power. Last year, Canada added 172 MW of solar energy capacity, the majority of which is in Ontario. Over the next decade, Alberta will look to match Ontario’s green output. Four wind farms worth $1 billion with opening dates in 2019 will contribute to this vision.
Southern Alberta it’s above-average sunshine make it an ideal spot for future developments of its scale. In fact, there are already several planned solar energy projects that could soon replace the Brooks field as Western Canada’s largest.
“Right now this one is looking big, but pretty soon it may look small,” said Molly Douglass, reeve of the County of Newell, where Brooks is located. “It’s pretty exciting for our community.”
Alberta’s green shift has been accelerated by the province’s NDP government, which swept into power in 2015. So far, the Alberta NDP has committed $28.8 million in funding to 12 cleantech projects province-wide.