Chad Park’s remarks from the EFL 2.0 launch reception on February 12, 2019
Over the last month something notable happened here in Alberta that not everyone may have heard about. On December 11th, the Canyon Creek Hydro Development Act received Royal Assent, enabling the Alberta Utilities Commission to issue its final approval for the Canyon Creek Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project near Hinton.
Alberta can take the bull by the horns and adapt to these changes, get in front of them and reap the benefits that will flow. But only if we look forward and come together on the same level of scale and ambition. This time we will have to do it with a lot more speed.
Canyon Creek is notable in that is the first hydro project to be approved by the Alberta Legislature in ten years as well as both the first ever pumped hydro and first ever large-scale energy storage project to be approved in Alberta. It makes use of an abandoned coal mine and incorporates two small off-stream water reservoirs that will be connected by a pipeline with pumps, turbines and generating equipment near the bottom reservoir in a powerhouse. The project will have the capacity to store 75MW for 37 hours of full capacity generation, helping the Alberta grid accommodate increasing production from renewable energy like large-scale wind.
This project was led by one of the Fellows of the Energy Futures Lab, Kipp Horton, the President and CEO of Windriver Power Corporation. It exemplifies much of what the EFL stands for and many of the narratives we talked about at the EFL Summit.
Perhaps even more notable is that the Canyon Creek Hydro Development Act was passed unanimously in the Alberta legislature. In this polarized environment. Months away from an election call. Congratulations to Kipp and his team and also kudos to the elected officials who saw the importance and opportunity in enabling this project. We need more of this.
What it shows us – and what is shown by the attendance at this event by leaders from all four major parties in the Alberta Legislature at the EFL Summit – is that getting it right on these issues is of utmost importance for the future of Alberta. And it IS possible to find common ground and get things done.
When the EFL was first conceived a few years ago, it was borne of a belief that despite the highly polarized nature of the public debates surrounding energy issues, there was a story from Alberta that wasn’t being heard and that Albertans would rise to the occasion if given the right opportunity.
There were plenty of Albertans from diverse backgrounds – including the oil and gas industry – who not only believed in the science of climate change but who were actively working on solutions. Innovators. Entrepreneurs. Intrapraneurs. Technology experts and social innovators. People who would roll up their sleeves and work together to accelerate progress. These were not “either or” kind of people – pitting one group against another in a “with us or against us” attitude. These were “and” people – who knew we could leverage the many energy assets and talent in this province to become leaders in shaping the energy future.
We found them. And it turns out, there are a LOT these kinds of people here. More than we thought.
Three years since the first meeting of EFL Fellows, we know that there is a lot more to be done, but we can say that the EFL has exceeded our expectations.
- pumped hydro energy from an abandoned coal mine,
- geothermal from oil wells,
- technology to turn carbon dioxide into useful materials,
- a start-up IT company partnering with a rural energy coop to enable solar energy solutions on farms,
- An Albertan renewable energy company building projects in B.C. with First Nations as partners
These are the kinds of initiatives being run by the participants in the EFL.
The EFL feels like a snowball.
- From 30 to 60 Fellows
- From 5 to 16 Convening Partners
- From 0 to 10 Exemplar Initiatives
- From almost zero trust to something like 90% trust among Fellows
- And more than 5000 people engaged through engagements like the EFL Leadership Bootcamp and the Newtonian Shift energy transition simulation game, with the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.
Forty years ago, Alberta came together with industry and government to bring the oil sands dream into reality, for the economic benefit of all of Canada.
The world is changing and some people are saying it is going to leave Alberta behind.
The people in this room are not among them.
Alberta can take the bull by the horns and adapt to these changes, get in front of them and reap the benefits that will flow.
But only if we look forward and come together on the same level of scale and ambition. This time we will have to do it with a lot more speed.
The EFL can be a key platform for making this happen. Thank you to all of you for being a part of the story so far and for joining us here today.
The snowball is rolling. Let’s keep it going.
The article was written by Chad Park, Lead Animator of the Energy Futures Lab and Senior Associate of The Natural Step Canada.