The sun is rising in the west. Well, not literally, but Alberta is becoming a major player in the solar industry in Canada. On September 14, 2016, the Alberta Government announced a firm target of 30% electricity used in Alberta will come from renewable sources such as wind, hydro and solar by 2030. On a brisk October day in Edmonton, Minister Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, doubled down on Alberta's commitment to renewables by announcing that the Alberta Government is setting a goal to power itself with more than 50% renewable energy.
This announcement was welcomed by a rousing audience on the opening day of CanSIA's Solar West Conference. According to John Gorman, CanSIA CEO, the attendance has more than doubled from last year, reaching a record 400 in 2016. The large number is no surprise - as I peered around, many of those in attendance were solar professionals, eager to get started with the transformation of Canada's Energy Capital.
I was fortunate to be in attendance at Solar West this year; representing the ELSE National Board. The conference was highlighted by the prominence of the speakers present. The day started with a speech from Gianna Manes, President & CEO of ENMAX Corporation who preached a comprehensive approach to transitioning away from carbon-intensive activities. It was followed by several panels that spoke about policy, system, and market dynamics, distribution-connected solar, and utility-scale solar. The panelists were insightful as they spoke with vigor about the rapid new trends and policies that have come in a flurry since the NDP took over power in the province from the 40-year reign of the Progressive Conservatives.
The day was It was refreshing to be surrounded by individuals that exuded sheer optimism, a stark contrast to the flailing solar industry in Ontario followed by Premier Wynne's announcement of the cancellation of procuring an additional 1,000MW of renewable energy projects (equivalent to all of Alberta's current renewable energy assets combined!)