Yale Environment 360 discusses how, as tar sands workers are looking to renewables for jobs. Long reliant on the vast oil reserves of its tar sands, Alberta is now facing a reckoning as its oil industry is clobbered by the coronavirus downturn. With tar sands operations shedding jobs, a movement is growing to retrain oil workers for the emerging renewables sector.
In the early 2000s, Brandon Sandmaier worked as a heavy-duty mechanic in Canada’s tar sands, the world’s largest industrial project, located in northern Alberta. He built pipelines and repaired 400-ton trucks that haul thick, oily bitumen through the open-pit mines. But after more than 10 years in the oil and gas industry, Sandmaier went back to school to study alternative energy in 2014. He knew he wanted to eventually start his own business and he saw potential for growth in solar. He now manages operations for a solar energy company that he cofounded, Generate Energy Ltd., in Sherwood Park, Alberta.