Greenpeace installs solar panels on a school in Palma de Mallorca, SpainFor years, I have been advocating the benefits of solar and other renewables.

But while I’ve studied and talked to many renewable energy producers and workers, I never actually got my solar hands dirty (or clean). Well, today that is about to change.

I will be attending a 5-day solar installation and design workshop taught by Canadian solar guru Randall Benson and his amazing team at Gridworks energy

The 5-day course will not only go deeper into the ever improving economics around solar, but will actually get us designing solar installations. By the end of the week, we will be on top of a roof installing panels ourselves –a great way to match theory with practice! 

It’s very inspiring to see that despite no real government support, solar entrepreneurs in Alberta are bringing solutions to the province anyways.

Randall Benson, the instructor of the course, is a shining example of the transition the most carbon-polluting province in the country needs to make.

Randall is originally from Anzac (a community right in the belly of the tar sands). For years, due to lack of opportunities, he worked for Suncor in a tar sands mine. When he was there, he saw the destruction the operations were causing and he saw the devastating impact they were having on his home community. Unable to rectify what was being done to his community and the land with his occupation at Suncor that was causing the damage, Randall made a decision. He convinced Suncor to indenture him as an Electrical Apprentice and as soon as he got his certificate, he quit and started his own business.

Now Randall runs his own company installing solar panels across the country. He is building the solution after coming out of the problem. He’s also working with other tar sands impacted communities to help them bring solutions home. Check out some of the inspiring developments happening on the solar front in Fort Chipewyan. 

It will be great learning from Randall this week. While we continue to expose the horrors of the tar sands industry and work to keep more of it in the ground, you should expect to hear more about solutions from us in the months ahead.

The solutions are here, other jurisdictions are already implementing them, and it’s time that Alberta and Canada committed to making the transition. I’m happy that this week I’m personally taking another step towards doing just that.