Project to solve orphan oil well problem set to power up



Project represents an opportunity for training and employment in renewable energy for oil and gas workers hit hard by the downturn in the fossil fuel industry


Iron & Earth partnered with a broad network of stakeholders to help develop a replicable solution to Alberta’s inactive well problem. The infrastructure was completed in November and despite a nasty snow storm, we went ahead with the ribbon cutting featured in the above video. We expect the power to come online late in January. 

With funding through the Municipal Community Generation Challenge, and partners including the Municipal District of Taber, RenuWell Energy Solutions Inc. , IRRICAN Power, and two prominent Canadian solar companies – Canadian Solar Inc. and SkyFire Energy Inc., the RenuWell Project has given two orphaned well sites a new and greener life.

The RenuWell Project has demonstrated how re-purposing legacy oil and gas infrastructure to community solar development can provide significant benefits to energy industries, the environment, and the economy.

Iron & Earth collaborated with Medicine Hat College, along with solar energy and wellsite closure experts, to develop a rapid upskilling program, the RenuWell Workforce Training Program, designed for fossil fuel industry and Indigenous workers to learn the basics of solar before working on transforming the well sites. The inaugural training program took place from June 20 - 27, 2022.

The infrastructure construction for the two pilot projects was completed in November and the finishing work to connect the solar power generation to the grid and energize the systems is nearly complete.

The RenuWell Project concept offers significant economic benefits including:

  • New economic opportunities for landowners stranded with orphaned wells on their farms.
  • Energy cost savings for farmers who can purchase solar electricity to power their irrigation systems.
  • The conservation of farmland and undisturbed ecosystems by utilizing brownfield sites for solar energy projects.
  • Cost savings for consumers by repurposing existing infrastructure such as roads and powerlines that were put in place for the original oil well production.
  • Reduced reclamation costs for oil and gas companies who don’t have to remove the roads and powerlines to the sites.
  • Revenue generation for Irrigation Districts to continue irrigation system maintenance and upgrades.
  • Property tax revenue for the Municipal District of Taber.
  • Training and employment opportunities for workers in reclamation and solar industries

To dig deeper into the project details and to access resources about what we have learned while working on RenuWell, visit the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre

The RenuWell Guidebook: Turning Liabilities into Assets is of special interest to communities or municipalities interested in their own RenuWell type projects. 

And listener to our podcast with Keith Hirsche and find out where the idea came from!

Or you can contact us at [email protected] 

Iron & Earth was founded and operates on Indigenous land within Treaty Six Territory and Métis Region 4 in amiskwaciy-wâskahikan (in Nehiyawewin/Cree), so-called Edmonton. The home of many Indigenous Peoples including the Nehiyawak/Cree, Tsuut’ina, Niitsitapi/Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Haudenosaunee/Iroquois, Dene Suliné, Anishinaabe/Ojibway/Saulteaux, and the Inuk/Inuit.

We pay our respects to all Indigenous Peoples of this land. Through their spiritual and practical relationships with the land, a rich heritage for our learning and our life as a community has been created and maintained. We recognize that the transition to a low-carbon future must be led by Indigenous Peoples and that there will be no justice unless we acknowledge and repair our relationship with the land.

We are committed to responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and acknowledge that we are always learning and unlearning practices that minimize harm and lead to the development of trust between us and Indigenous Peoples across Nations and urban centers.