Thursday, October 08, 2020

Alberta finally starts to look outside of the oil and gas industry

Well, credit where credit is due, I guess, even if it is for long overdue action. Alberta's stubborn Conservative government is finally recognizing that it desperately needs to diversify its economy out of the moribund oil and gas industry and join the 21st century, with recent announcements about developing a hydrogen fuel industry and investing in geothermal energy projects. Wow!

First, it announces it is looking to recreate Alberta as a major hydrogen production and export centre, as well as a "centre of excellence" for plastics diversion and recycling. Some oil companies already produce some hydrogen for their own use, although they would need to invest in some carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) to make it a bit greener (it's actually called "blue hydrogen" in this state) for mass consumption. A big bet on hydrogen as a major clean fuel source for the future is a calculated risk, and there are many proponents and detractors of the technology. But anything to wean them off oil has to be encouraged, and there is a good chance that hydrogen will indeed become a major commercial fuel source, particularly for long-distance trucks, for which battery power would be impractical (at least using currently-available technology).

And then, just today, Alberta Energy Minster Sonia Savage (who HAS to be a WWE wrestler on the side, with a great name like that!) announced an expansion of geothermal investments in the province, which particularly makes sense given the drilling expertise in Alberta. It's even possible that some of the province's inactive and orphaned oil wells could be adapted for green geothermal energy production.

Of course, Alberta's intransigent government is making these out to be forward-looking, progressive ideas that they have come up with themselves, and not the desperate adoption of what many people have been telling them for years. And I'm pretty sure that arch-dinosaur Premier Jason Kenney was NOT the person behind this. But, hey, we'll take it. Who knows, they may even institute a sales tax next!

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