The alternative energy industry is on the rise, creating new opportunities for a more sustainable future and greater control over energy supply, costs and environmental impact for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
Through Edmonton’s Renewable Energy Task Force, the City is taking steps to engage and encourage alternative energy industry growth, creating a welcoming climate for anyone interested in entering the field.
Within Canada, biomass is the third largest source of renewable energy after hydroelectricity and wind, with consumption more than doubling in Alberta from 1990 to 2014.
Edmonton is home to the world’s first industrial-scale municipal waste-to-biofuel facility that converts approximately 100,000 tonnes of sorted municipal solid waste into 38 million litres of ethanol annually. In addition to Edmonton’s recycling and compositing programs, this waste-to-biofuel facility enables the city to have a waste diversion rate of 90%.
With large resources in forestry and agriculture, Alberta’s biomass growth potential is promising. Alberta has approximately 20 million tonnes of annual waste in potential feedstock, which could be converted to biofuel. With the growing demand for energy, biomass could lead the way for Alberta’s alternative energy source.
Key players in the local biomass market include EnerKem, Radient, Hurst Boiler and Firebox Energy Systems.
Alberta has a high potential for solar energy and Edmonton’s solar potential exceeds most Canadian cities and many areas of the world.
Northern Alberta municipalities are regularly ranked as some of the sunniest in Canada, with Edmonton consistently in the top three for major Canadian cities that have the greatest percentage of sunshine each day (Environment Canada, 2010).
Additionally, an opportunity exists in Edmonton as cold temperatures make solar photovoltaic more efficient.
Key players in the local solar market include SkyFire Energy, Gridworks Energy Group, NU Energy Group Inc., Great Canadian Solar and ENMAX.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES EDUCATION & INNOVATION
The North Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), located in Edmonton, offers a two-year Alternative Energy Technology program, which educates students on a broad range of alternative energy sources including solar, geothermal, biofuels, hydro and wind. The program’s goal is to create an educated workforce that will be able to design and install a broad range of green technologies to help meet the increasing demand for renewable energy.