Alberta takes first look at solar

Provincial government issues request for information as some conventional contracts expire.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Oct. 7, 2016 at 8:50 AM
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The provincial government of Alberta said it was looking at whether solar power could replace expiring contracts to power its buildings.

Alberta's government issued a request for information on the potential costs and the best way forward toward using solar power for half of government operations. Three contracts to power government-owned buildings are on the books, but two of those are set to expire before the end of 2017.

The government said replacing the two set to expire opens the door for potential solar energy development. If the government can take on solar instead, it said that would result in 10 times the current amount of solar energy produced in the oil-rich province.

"With this request for information, Alberta is leading by example and exploring how to create an opportunity for an emerging technology, drive new innovation and diversify our electricity sector," Minister of Infrastructure Brain Mason said in a statement.

A five-member task force was appointed by the provincial government in September to help steer research, development and deployment of technology that could be used to advance a low-carbon economy in Alberta.

Alberta lies at the heart of the Canadian oil sector and lower crude oil prices have resulted in a 3.7 percent contraction for the provincial economy.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, embracing a green economic agenda, touted partnerships in low-carbon technology with Chinese businesses during a state visit to Shanghai in early September.

According to the provincial overview of its energy portfolio, coal offers twice the energy potential of other non-renewable resources. The government nonetheless said pollution from coal-fired power will be eliminated by 2030 as natural gas and renewables move in to take the place of coal.

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