Oil and gas workers and members of the Louis Bull Tribe installed rooftop solar panels on a community daycare in Maskwacis, near Edmonton on Friday, as part of an initiative to give workers new opportunities in clean energy.
It’s the first course in the “solar skills” program created by Iron & Earth, an initiative launched by oilsands workers in 2015 as WTI oil prices fell into the current “lower forever” $50 range.
The goal is to “upskill” 1,000 oil, gas and coal workers — as well as indigenous community members — as solar specialists through hands-on installations.
“Struggling oil, gas and coal workers have the ability to build a new energy economy in Canada. The province of Alberta plans to get 30 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2030, which will create many new opportunities in solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and biofuel energy projects. Similar opportunities will be created in other provinces as Canada implements its plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 and reach near net-zero emissions by 2050,” Iron & Earth said in a statement.
The training program was developed as part of the collaboration platform of the Energy Futures Lab and is a partnership with Iron & Earth, Gridworks Energy Group, and the Louis Bull Tribe. It was sponsored by Enbridge and Suncor Energy. Iron & Earth is actively seeking multi-stakeholder collaborations as it scales this initiative up across the country, with a second training course scheduled in Newfoundland and Labrador in two weeks.
“The skills we have as energy workers are versatile and transferable, but support is needed to enable workers to diversify,” Iron & Earth’s Jen Turner said in the statement.