Our energy sources are evolving. As far as sources of energy in Alberta are concerned, solar energy is experiencing explosive growth. Installers like Inferno Solar are the ones laying the initial groundwork for a bright and diverse energy future, where sources like solar, wind, hydro, and natural gas work in collaboration. That’s how we can Power Business, Power Change, and Power Alberta.
It is unfortunate that some authors are so eager to inflame their readers, that they don’t provide any context for their articles. Take this example from David Staples, who wrote this article for the Edmonton Journal: “Thanks for nothing, solar power.”
It is true that during the recent cold snap, solar produced much less energy than natural gas. But it is also worth noting that large-scale solar is relatively new to the province. The first coal power plant in Alberta appeared in 1874 in Lethbridge. The first natural gas power plant began operations in 1955 at Rossdale in Edmonton. Even wind has a long history in Alberta, with Transalta installing the first plant in Canada at Cowley Ridge in 1993. It was decommissioned in 2016 after 23 years of clean energy production.
By contrast, the first large-scale solar plant built in Alberta is Brooks Solar. Rated at 15 Megawatts, it began producing in 2017.
A Shift in Attitudes
In the last five years, Alberta has built an astonishing 336+ Megawatts, under a free market system for power, without rebate or subsidy. This demonstrates that attitudes are shifting about solar energy, and pretty soon solar will contribute meaningfully to our energy mix.
In fact, we’ve seen attitudes about alternative energy already begin to shift. As CTV News Edmonton recently reported, “Wind-generated electricity starting to outpace coal in Alberta.” Compared with fossil fuels, it didn’t take long for the public to begin adopting alternatives. Solar is up next.
Traditional and Solar Energy: A Collaborative Future
In his Edmonton Journal article, Staples also frames the Alberta energy grid as an us vs. them competition. If alternatives can’t provide 100% of the needed energy output, they’ve failed. That’s simply not true. Our perspective is part gradual improvement and part collaboration, where solar, wind, and traditional sources complement one another. Wind, for example, tends to see its highest generation in the overnight hours and lowest during the day. That’s when solar comes in to pick up the slack.
Transitions take time. We’re excited for a future when Alberta is powered by a mix of traditional energy sources, renewables, and long and short term energy storage that uses batteries, pumped hydro, and interesting technology such as compressed air in salt caverns (like this project from RMP Energy).
We value our Alberta energy heritage while welcoming newer, less polluting energy types.