Why Solar: Gazing into the Alberta winter of 2040

Why Solar: Gazing into the Alberta winter of 2040

Snow falls quietly on a cold winter’s eve in the year 2040. The highway is busy; headlights illuminate the driving lanes from both directions, traffic noise is low dominated by the hum of electric motors transporting commuters. The cacophony of internal combustion engines only occasionally erupts in the darkness, the sound, a scarce relic of the past.

Charging lanes, with their overhead power lines, light up with sparks as tractor trailer units raise their pantograph to charge their exhausted batteries while in route. Service stations ply the sides of gasoline alley, dispensing hydrogen, charging stations, or fresh electrolyte for vehicles using the latest in flow batteries, and infrequently blue fuels produced from air and hydrogen.

The countryside is dotted with large photovoltaic arrays, wind farms, and pumped storage facilities seemingly on every hill of size. With the technical issues of fusion being addressed, finally, civilization and the environment benefit from the suns nuclear process 24/7. Recently two new reactors came on line to serve the masses.

Above the clouds, electric aircraft ply the skies, whisking travelers bound for holidays, business, or reunion with loved ones. The weather is cooler; the carbon content of the air is starting to dip below the 400 ppm mark, due in large part to the massive carbon capture, sequestration, and recycling plants dotting the landscape. Atmospheric carbon once thought to be un-mineable now provides materials, income, and jobs for citizens.

Oil and gas sites still scatter the land, most having never been decommissioned. Instead as the need for oil decreased and marginal wells became unprofitable, they were repurposed, their allotted space covered with solar arrays, wind turbines, or geothermal equipment. Electricity generated by the state-of-the-art equipment is used to power fuel cells which produce hydrogen to fill the existing pipeline infrastructure. Hydrogen, nature’s most abundant element now replacing the hydrocarbon of years past, feed stock for the new burgeoning green economy.

Larger oil sites, which in past decades would have been scrapped, are now converted into carbon recovery systems. Huge fan structures pulling in vast quantities of ambient air, recover the carbon dioxide to produce all types of raw materials for manufacturing. New industrial plants have filled up swaths of industrial real estate creating products for the worlds markets from the raw material recovered by the direct air capture facilities.

Alberta, larger in land mass than most nations, smaller in population than most cities is now its own country, profiting massively from technologies innovative residents had the foresight to implement. Oil revenues initially funded the research, the tax breaks given early adopters and the technical innovators stimulated innovation and ingenuity like never before.

Government’s initiatives had facilitated, and entrepreneurs in the private sector around the province had triumphed. They had made Alberta the “silicon valley” of the energy industry. They had tackled difficult environmental GHG issues while simultaneously addressing the ubiquitous problem of employment and economic growth.

A fantasy, probably; however, is it possible our economic and political leaders are sagacious enough to see this opportunity?

Lorne Oja can be reached at lorne@carbon2solar.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Andre Lemus, the owner of Las Palmeras in Red Deer, says he hopes in-person dining restrictions are lifted this upcoming Thursday. (Photo courtesy www.laspalmeras.ca)
Red Deer restaurant owner hopes in-person dining restrictions are lifted Thursday

The owner of a Red Deer restaurant says business has “dropped” since… Continue reading

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage addresses the attendees while Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, looks on at a press conference at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes
‘Morally and ethically wrong:’ Court to hear challenge to Alberta coal policy removal

First Nations, ranchers, municipal officials and environmentalists hope to persuade a judge… Continue reading

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle arrives at Nova Scotia provincial court for a sentencing hearing in Halifax on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canada’s spy-catching system caused delay, angst in Delisle case: former FBI official

OTTAWA — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s former head of counter-intelligence… Continue reading

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Thursday, May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Body of worker whose bulldozer fell through ice on inactive tailings pond recovered

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Oilpatch giant Suncor says the body of a… Continue reading

A restaurant manager in Orlando used a sign to secretly ask an 11-year-old boy if he needs help from his family after they were spotted withholding food from him. (Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department)
WATCH: Restaurant manager uses secret note to ‘rescue’ child, says Orlando Police

The manager of an Orlando restaurant is receiving praise from police after… Continue reading

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will cripple struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

VICTORIA — A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

Most Read