Energy workers are welcoming the opportunity to help lead a unique project to transform inactive wells with solar energy in Taber, Alberta. The project, called RenuWell, is the first project of its kind.
Iron & Earth, a not-for-profit organization of fossil fuel industry and Indigenous workers who build and implement climate solutions, is a partner in the project. The organization calls the initiative an opportunity for its members in the region to attain training in renewable energy while using skills gained in the oil and gas and coal industries.
“Many fossil fuel workers are ready to help build a net-zero emissions economy and we have the skills to do the work,” says Lliam Hildebrand, executive director of Iron & Earth. “This project is a perfect example of our workforce’s capacity to help build that new economy.”
Iron & Earth is partnering with Medicine Hat College to develop a five-day rapid upskilling program for fossil fuel industry and Indigenous workers to learn the basics of solar before working on transforming the well sites themselves.
According to Hildebrand, as Canada stimulates its economy following the pandemic, it is critical to invest in projects that will have wide-reaching and long term economic and social benefits. “RenuWell is exactly the type of shovel-ready project we need to be investing in,” says Hildebrand, who would like to see the model scale up to repurpose more of the hundreds of thousands of wells across Canada.
This week RenuWell project partners welcomed the announcement of their successful application to the Municipal Community Generation Challenge, an initiative offered in partnership by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre (MCCAC) and Alberta Innovates, which will fund the Municipal District of Taber to launch the project. IRRICAN (the irrigation canal power co-operative owned by St. Mary River, Taber, and Raymond Irrigation Districts) is also contributing $1.5 million. The power co-operative will be the owner and operator of the solar generation projects.
Canadian Solar Inc. and SkyFire Energy Inc.will be coordinating the installations, with Canadian Solar providing up to $700,000 in in-kind funding.
For further information, links to the RenuWell project partners and funders are as follows:
Municipal Climate Change Action Centre
Municipal District of Taber
RenuWell Energy Solutions
Canadian Solar Inc.
SkyFire Energy Inc.
Action Surface Rights Association
Medicine Hat College
Iron & Earth
Orphan Well Association