By Ian Croft
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With the push to more renewable and greener sources of energy the future of Alberta’s Energy industry is somewhat shrouded in mystery. To help dispel this unknown Peter Casurella Executive Director of SouthGrow spoke on what exactly the future of Alberta’s energy could be.
“What does the future look like? I hope to see more new energy projects put into Southern Alberta. I’d like to see the SouthGrow region get as many as we feasibly can,” said Casurella. “Having said that we need to learn from the mistakes of the past, and we need to do energy development responsibly. We needed updated legislation from Edmonton which speaks to some of the very valid concerns that people in southern Alberta have put forward on these projects. There’s an awful lot of unproductive land all over the place, and you shouldn’t see solar panels covering very good farmland that needs to be a regulation. Right now there’s no regulation that covers that kind of thing.”
With companies interested in setting up new interests within renewable and green energies an air of the uncertainty would discourage them in investing into new products. Casurella spoken on how the Alberta government needs to take the lead and make it more stable for these companies to invest into this province.
“We need to be having a combined vision in the province of Alberta for what the electrical grid is going to look like in 2035 for example. Basically the government of Alberta needs to offer this industry predictability so they can make long-term investments that are needed to modernize the electrical grid with confidence, or to give those energy producers the confident they need to pour millions or billions of dollars into The development of energy projects knowing that their investment is going to be a secure one, and that the rules aren’t going to suddenly change overnight.”
Adding on to this Casurella brings up how there doesn’t need to be a grandiose plan for the future.
“Frankly it doesn’t really matter too much what that vision is for 2035 in Alberta,” said Casurella. “It matters that it’s based on sound research, it matters that it’s a unified vision, that the rules are the same for everybody, and it is forward looking enough to be predictable for energy companies to know what’s going to happen. For everybody to move together in a common direction so that their investments can be secured. Also, in the future we’re in a really good place to do exactly what Alberta has done with oil and gas, and is to become world leaders not just in the deployment of these technologies, and the extraction of the resources from them i.e. the production of energy, but have the expertise to export and sell to the world.”
With new developing technology within the energy industry it is important that Alberta hit the ground running since we can develop the experts that will be needed internationally. Casurella discuss this as well also pointing out that we already have individuals in other fields that can help push us forward as pioneers in the new energy industry.
“We want to be on the leading edge of change particularly when we are an expert in energy,” said Casurella. “All the people that work in oil and gas have transferrable experience. We got the supporting industries here, we have the engineers, we have the financiers who can move seamlessly into this industry, and the be world leaders to help us sell our expertise, our products, and our inventions to the rest of the world. All to make them all money off of being forward thinking change makers, and leaders. That’s my vision for what’s happening in southern Alberta, and what I would like to see.”
After discussing with the future could look like for Alberta energy Casurella also briefly touched on what SouthGrow is working on.
“Lastly we’re also working a lot,” said Casurella. “SouthGrow we got big boots here and we do an awful lot, but we get by on a shoestring budget. We’ve been struggling to maintainer operations and achieve very ambitious projects in the face of the roller coaster of life. We are in the process right now of trying to build our own solar project that the SouthGrow regional initiative would own and operate, and we would take the profits off the operation to help us fund what we do in Southern Alberta. We got a very progressive vision for that project, and I hope to be able to release more information on it in the coming month as the project define and everything we put together moves from just the concept to actual reality with construction starting.”