Alberta government looks at options to become 50% solar powered

A town in North Carolina rejected plans to build a solar farm, with some residents worried that they would soak up all the sun. File/Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The province is putting some feelers out to see if it’s worth building a solar farm.

Two green energy contracts for 135,000 megawatt hours a year are going to end by 2018 and the government has issued a request for information on the potential cost and best approach to  building what would be the first such project in Western Canada.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips hopes investments like this will open the door for more green projects.

READ MORE: Solar power projects lined up in anticipation of Alberta NDP incentives 

“What that means for us is that we can attract billions of dollars of new private sector investment in renewables, billions in clean tech and innovation initiatives.”

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She dismissed concerns of instability with a solar system.

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“There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the role of renewables in an electricity system,” Phillips said.

“We have a lot of amateur engineering going on, particularly by the folks to deny the science of climate change.”

READ MORE: Alberta NDP sets 5,000-megawatt renewable power target

The contracts power government-owned buildings and sites, and the government wants the project to stay local.

“The request is a chance for industry to connect with government and discuss the best ways to meet our renewable energy goals using Alberta skills and expertise.”

READ MORE: Reaction to Alberta’s ‘ambitious’ climate change plan

If the contracts are filled by solar energy, it would result in 10 times the amount of solar power than what is currently generated.

“There is no doubt that solar electricity will become an important component of Alberta’s decarbonized and diversified electricity supply mix as the cost of our technology continues to significantly decline,” John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, said.

“A solar farm that would meet half of the Government of Alberta’s annual electricity needs would support the delivery of many firsts: Canada’s first 50 per cent solar-powered government; Western Canada’s first large-scale solar farm; Alberta’s first utility-scale solar jobs.”

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With a file from Global News

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