Alberta has 170,000 plus inactive and abandoned oil wells and over 3000 orphan wells that have been abandoned by failed companies. It all adds up to a liability in excess of $30 billion against a total security deposit of less than $250 million. There is also a growing tax liability. In a survey, the Rural Municipalities Association of Alberta (RMA) found $245 million in unpaid property taxes owed by oil and gas companies in February 2021, a 200 percent increase from 2019. Lease arrears to land owners, are also in the millions.

The speaker will argue that an average of 750 kilowatts solar energy can be installed on abandoned oil well sites by converting those without further impact on the farmland, thus creating a long-term source of revenue in the form of taxation to municipalities and lease payments to land owners. He will detail the possibilities of such installations and further contend that local renewable energy production can minimize the need for, expensive to construct, high-voltage transmission lines. With support from Alberta’s Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, the M.D. of Taber and 3 irrigation districts (St. Mary River, Taber and Raymond), two 1 MW pilot projects are scheduled for construction in the Spring of 2022.

Speaker: Keith Hirsche

Keith Hirsche is a fourth generation Albertan, second generation in the oil and gas industry and the originator of the RenuWell Project. Over the course of his career, he provided research support for in-situ oilsands production, managed software developments and played key roles in several consortia including Canada’s first CO2 sequestration/EOR project.

Keith was introduced to renewable energy technology in 2003 while visiting extended family in Denmark. Later that year, he founded Elemental Energy (2003 Alberta) Inc to explore how conventional and renewable energy systems could be combined for a more sustainable future. Since 2016, he has worked with key stakeholders to create economic, environmental and social benefits by repurposing Alberta’s legacy oil and gas infrastructure to be a foundation for renewable energy development. In addition to his technical experience, Keith is trained in group facilitation and conflict management.

Session Video

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