Canadian corporations are just beginning to catch on to a wider global trend and speed up their renewable energy purchases, and Alberta has the right mix of solar and wind resources and skilled work force to meet its share of the demand, CBC reports.
“It’s really exciting to see business interests driving renewable energy development,” said Sara Hastings-Simon, director of the Pembina Institute’s non-profit Business Renewables Centre, which held a launch event last Thursday in Calgary.
“We’re talking about the practice of corporate institutions purchasing renewables to meet their own electricity demand. And this is a really well-established driver for renewable energy development in the U.S.,” she added. “You may be hearing headlines like Google, Apple, and others that are buying renewables, and we’re helping to bring this practice to Canada.”
With solar and wind prices plummeting, Hastings-Simon said the time is right for companies to sign long-term contracts and lock in low prices. “We have over 10 gigawatts of renewable energy projects in the pipeline that are ready for buyers,” Hastings-Simon said. “And so we see multinational companies coming to Canada to start to procure here, as well as Canadian companies understanding that this is an opportunity for them, as well.”
Along the way, “renewable procurement could help dispel the narrative that it’s all about oil and gas in Alberta,” CBC adds.
Mark Porter, director of the U.S. Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, said his organization has worked for years to accelerate corporate renewables procurement. “We try and make that a little bit easier by building out a community that can help to really reinforce each other, share lessons learned, best practices and then drive for transactions to have actual material impact worldwide,” he told CBC.
In Alberta, “we’re really excited to be working with the Pembina group and the BRC Canada team,” he added. “We feel our best value for this is just to support them with our experiences and lessons. They’ve been basically doing the same thing for many years, helping to grow and grow and cultivate the market.”
Hastings-Simon stressed that Alberta has the skilled work force to make the transition happen. “We have a lot of the knowledge that’s needed, and that’s everybody from the construction down through the legal and financing—all those pieces of building big projects,” she said. “We are seeing increasing interest in people that want to become involved in that industry, and so there is increasing demand for training in things like solar installation and wind technicians.”
As renewables procurement gains momentum, “we’re going to need to have more workers that are active in those areas,” she added. “So I think we can see a very nice increase—both the demand and the number of folks that are able to work in this field.”