By Kristina Ross
Renewable energy isn’t a tough sell these days. With the price of sustainable power generation dropping, and the technology behind it becoming more transparent and user-friendly, it’s evident that consumers don’t have to step too far outside of their comfort zone to incorporate renewable energy into their daily lives.
In Alberta, the society-wide shift to green power is headlined by its solar projects. Alberta’s solar potential is measured as high as any other community its size anywhere else in the world.
Admittedly, Albertans have yet to maximize their state’s solar potential. Germany, which is little more than half of Alberta’s size, has managed to generate over 15,000 times the solar power Alberta has produced up to this point. But it shouldn’t be that way for much longer.
Alberta’s newfound dedication to solar power is perhaps best identified by the Drake Landing Solar Community. As the first solar powered community to be installed in North America, Drake Landing is a 52-home neighbourhood that’s fueled by a central solar heating system. With solar panels on every house, the community is able to run almost all of its daily operations through the energy collected from the sun.
Outside of closed-system communities like Drake Landing, Albertans are involving themselves with residential solar power by taking advantage of programs such as Light Up Alberta, a green initiative put together by a group of Alberta’s smaller electricity retailers. The program allows home and business owners to receive a 15-cent/kWh premium for generating solar power and exporting it to the regional grid. In essence, it gives consumers incentive to generate, employ and sell solar power through an easy, no-hassle market.
Still, some Albertans don’t have access to solar power generation mechanisms. In turn, associations like the Solar Energy Society of Alberta have set up workshops, seminars, and online resources for interested parties to make the leap into solar energy. Whether it’s finding a way to donate to local projects or simply raising awareness on a grassroots level, Albertans are now privy to a growing database of information about solar power.
Better yet, Alberta’s commitment to renewables extends beyond the realm of solar power. According to a recent tally by Albertaventure.com, Alberta has a total of 37 renewable energy projects on tap, which in culmination could add 4,461 MW of electricity. While many are solar projects, a good deal are associated with wind, biomass and other forms of renewable energy. Provided Alberta continues in this direction, there’s no telling what the province can accomplish in terms of solar energy and sustainability as a whole.
Kristina Ross is a blogger at SaveOnEnergy.com