Solar energy in Alberta is still a tiny fraction of the total electricity mix, only five megawatts, but it's growing. Higher prices for solar electricity would certainly accelerate the process and get more clean solar energy on the grid more quickly, also helping Alberta with one of the biggest challenges it faces - reducing emissions in our fossil-fuel economy.
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth like to frame the energy-discussion as if it only has a few very simple dimensions. Theirs is a very simple narrative of environmental protection versus corporate profits. What they don't want to discuss is the reality that right now 2.5 billion human beings are living impoverished lives because they have insufficient access to energy.
The National Energy Board (NEB), Canada's chief energy regulator, has come out with a new report projecting energy development in Canada out to 2035. The potential for growth (and economic benefits to Canadians) is massive, but the NEB shares our concerns that the potential for bottlenecks and infrastructure short-falls imperil this projected growth.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has released a "windvision" plan for Alberta that, not-surprisingly calls for the province to build a lot more wind-power capacity. CanWEA suggests that while the province currently generates 1,100 Megawatts of wind-power, it could install nearly five times as much. Of course, they point out that Alberta's competitive energy system makes it hard to get wind-power construction financed. But they have a solution to that, calling on policymakers to institute a clean energy standard in Alberta, and asking them to hike Alberta's carbon tax.
To Warren Sarauer putting a solar electric system on his roof was a no-brainer but when some innovative electricity retailers in Alberta decided to offer almost double the going rate for his exported solar energy he was ecstatic. Sarauer is a big solar energy supporter - through his company Evergreen and Gold Renewable Energy he puts renewable energy systems into people's homes. But last year he tackled a project that would set an example for his clients, he built a net-zero office.
Kampala has many advantages driving growth. It is resource rich. From a tourism perspective, the country is beautiful and, in comparison to Nairobi or Cape Town, it's quite safe. In some ways the country is well suited to lead Africa in economic development. Like being in the dark, literally. Unreliable electricity goes beyond being a mere hindrance; it can be life threatening.
Leaders in the Canadian hydropower industry believe North America can dam its way to a cooler climate, but some experts say that continual increases in energy supply -- whatever the source -- are not the optimal response to the climate crunch. The answer is not more energy, but much more efficient use of it.