Mechanical energy source: CBC News mechanical energy type: Renewable energy Source: CBC The electrical grid has long relied on diesel generators to keep the lights on.
But the shift to renewable energy is expected to put an end to that, as new technologies like battery storage and renewable energy farms make it possible to build the infrastructure for large-scale electric vehicles.
The transition to renewable energies is not just a technological one, says Brian Gannon, the director of the University of Calgary’s Renewable Energy Institute.
“It’s a political one.
There’s a lot of public pressure, there’s a public policy demand to move away from diesel,” says Gannon.
Renewable energy plants have already proven themselves.
Alberta’s First Nations have successfully built an electric power plant that uses only 50 per cent of the electricity generated by diesel engines.
This year, a new power plant in the United Kingdom is expected use 100 per cent renewable energy.
And in the U.S., a project in Oregon has the potential to generate 1.6 million megawatts of electricity by 2050, according to a study released in March.
With the transition to clean energy, there is a great opportunity to build more renewable energy infrastructure, Gannon says.
But Gannon warns that it will be difficult to make the transition without the support of politicians, businesses and other sectors of society.
Gannon and his co-authors also say there are several issues that must be addressed before any large-size solar power project can be built in the province.
First, the province needs to find the funding to build out a national network to provide renewable energy for a national scale.
Second, it needs to develop a plan for integrating renewable energy into existing power infrastructure.
Third, there needs to be a mechanism to ensure the government does not get in the way of new energy development.
Finally, the new energy sector must be able to attract investment from a variety of sectors and industries.
And while Gannon and the others say that a new energy generation infrastructure will be necessary to meet the challenges that the transition presents, the federal government is already funding a major solar project that is expected in 2021.
A number of major projects are underway around the world to replace fossil fuels, including one in China that is projected to generate 5 million megawatt hours of electricity, according the Energy Information Administration.
In Alberta, the Renewable Electricity Fund is working to develop an energy infrastructure that will support a future of renewable energy production and supply.
We’ve seen a lot from this process in terms of this transition, says Gilly.
“There’s a big push in the provinces and territories to make sure they can develop the infrastructure, to ensure that the investments can be there to support a transition that will be beneficial to society.”
Gannon says the transition is also the opportunity for the federal governments to take a more active role in the economy.
When governments decide to step in, they can put a stake in the ground in terms.
“You can put in a little bit of funding, you can put more infrastructure, you could put in incentives,” says John Macdonald, a professor at the University in Regina’s School of Economics.
“That could actually create jobs and make a lot more economic sense than just relying on the government to provide some sort of subsidy.”
“This will help Alberta’s economy to be competitive, because we are a small province that’s trying to compete on a global level,” says Macdonald.
Macdonald says the federal commitment to the province is an example of how Alberta has already started to take advantage of a new economic model that has emerged from a transition to green energy.
For example, the government is planning to spend $3 billion over five years to develop renewable energy resources.
However, as we move into a new era of clean energy in Alberta, Gilly says it’s important to remember that the federal Government has to balance the needs of the private sector and the needs and interests of the public.
Ultimately, the transition will be driven by the economy, says MacDonald.
“It’s really important that the private sectors continue to be engaged and that the public sector continue to contribute.”
As for the transition, the industry is working with the federal, provincial and territorial governments to develop the best possible infrastructure, including an energy plan that would be made available to the public as well as businesses.
It’s also important to note that this transition will take place on a local level, says George Pérez, president of the Canadian Solar Energy Association.
“Local governments will need to have an understanding of the transition and how to support the transition,” he says.