Calgary is on the path to becoming a premier green energy hub in North America. This is one of the key findings from the Delphi Group’s recently completed study on the Calgary Region’s Green Energy Economy.
According to Delphi’s research, in 2015, Calgary’s green energy economy was responsible for generating $3.63 billion in gross output, $1.78 billion in gross domestic product, and employed approximately 15,470 jobs, equal to 1.8 per cent of all workers in the Calgary Economic Region.
The study investigated the strengths and opportunities Calgary and Alberta have in relation to green energy activities in four sub-sectors:
- Renewable power generation and alternative energy;
- Energy storage and grid infrastructure;
- Green building and energy efficiency; and
- Green transportation.
Key reasons for the growing success of Calgary’s green energy economy include:
- Broad policy support and financing for green energy sector projects.
- Government of Canada resources include $120 billion in infrastructure spending, $1 billion for clean technology, and export development in line with the $2.65 billion for international commitments to help developing countries lower carbon emissions.
- The Alberta government is implementing its Climate Leadership Plan to phase out 6,300 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, and replace two-thirds of it with renewable energy. Over the next five years the province will provide $3.4 billion toward its plan and related initiatives, including $645 million for energy efficiency projects
- The City of Calgary has committed to implementing policies to reduce GHG emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 from 2005 levels.
2. An abundance of renewable resources. Alberta has a wide range of some of the best natural renewable energy resources in Canada, including:
- Wind – 35 per cent of Alberta’s land base is suitable for wind energy and only one per cent of Alberta’s wind energy resources are being utilized.
- Solar – Alberta’s solar resource is 25 per cent greater than Ontario’s and 30 per cent greater than Germany’s solar resource.
- Biomass – 20 million tonnes of annual waste in potential biomass feedstock.
- Geothermal – Numerous orphaned wells are in the province and generation potential is upward of 60,000 MW at a depth of 3.5 kilometres.
3. Extensive project development experience. Considerable experience exists in the Calgary region for developing a range of renewable energy projects including utility-scale wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) and hydro, as well as district energy, bioenergy, and commercial-scale and residential solar projects.
- Alberta was an early leader in Canada with respect to utility-scale renewable energy project development and deployment, having installed the country’s first wind farm in 1993.
- Alberta is home to the largest wind project in Western Canada (300 MW); the largest rooftop solar system in Canada; and the largest solar PV farm in Western Canada.
- Alberta is the third largest wind producer in Canada (following Ontario and Quebec) and 32 per cent of Canada’s installed capacity are from Calgary-based companies.
4. A growing cluster of green energy companies. Calgary is the home of entrepreneurs, investors, research firms and supporting organizations for companies, large and small, that are helping to grow the green energy sector. More than 350 companies in Calgary are active in the green energy economy. They include:
- Eguana Technologies – A manufacturer and supplier of power control solutions (inverters) for residential and commercial energy storage systems that enables higher levels of renewable energy supply and better utilization of the existing grid infrastructure.
- Geometric Energy – An innovative academic spin-off from the University of Calgary involved with R&D focused on sustainable, distributed energy resource systems, including solar PV systems and electrochemical engineering.
- DIRTT Environmental Solutions – Uses proprietary software to streamline interior design and office spaces and develop customized, energy- and resource-efficient pre-fabricated interiors.
5. Access to top talent. Calgary and Alberta have an abundance of highly-skilled workers with experience in the energy sector. They have transferable or applicable skills to the green energy economy, from project design to construction.
- These occupations include professional engineers, geologists, and geotechnical specialists, skilled trades, and related services such as information and communications technology specialists.
- Calgary has a highly educated globally connected workforce with Statistics Canada reporting Calgary has the highest educational attainment in Canada after Ottawa.
6. Research and innovation centres of excellence. Calgary is home to research expertise and world-class institutions focused on developing innovative technologies and solutions in areas including solar PV, bioenergy, geothermal energy, energy storage and fuel cells, electric vehicles and advanced transportation systems, and green building materials and technology applications. Examples include:
- The Centre for Advanced Solar Materials at the University of Calgary is designing novel ways of converting sunlight to electricity and high-density fuels such as hydrogen. Solutions under development take an interdisciplinary approach that includes materials design and synthesis, nanotechnology, spectroscopy, and electrochemistry.
- Calgary Advanced Energy Storage and Conversion Research Group at the University of Calgary, which is developing technologies and solutions for clean and efficient energy storage and conversion of electricity, such as batteries, electrolyzers, and fuel cells.
- Green Building Technologies Research Division at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is working with industry to develop environmentally-friendly technologies, processes, programs, systems, and services that will fundamentally change the way buildings are constructed, education is delivered, and skills are developed.