2019 Year End Review: Celebrating Renewable Energy and Climate Action Wins

2019 was a year for many amazing accomplishments in progressing the world to a more sustainable future.

As we enter 2020 with a new era of possibilities, Virtuoso Energy looks back at some of the highlights that shook up the renewable industry in the past year. Check out Virtuoso Energy’s top 9 renewable energy and climate action wins for 2019!

Global Renewable Energy and Climate Action Wins

9. Bill Gates Backed Energy Startup Achieves Solar Breakthrough

Sustainable energy company, Heliogen, backed by Bill Gates, discovers a solar breakthrough for harnessing energy from the sun. For the first time in history, concentrated solar energy can be used to create extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius that can be used for melting metals in industrial processes (Egan, 2019). Unlike traditional solar power, Heliogen uses artificial intelligence and field mirrors to concentrate solar power to reflect the sun at a single point (Fox, 2019). The patented discovery is believed to dramatically reduce harmful emissions produced in industrial processes (Egan, 2019).

8. Rivian Announces $500M Investment from Ford

Ford Motor Company pledges an equity investment of $500M to Tesla rival, Rivian. Together, Ford and Rivian will work together developing the next generation of electric vehicles and transition automobiles into sustainability (Boudette, 2019). In addition to Ford’s investment on the start-up, Rivian will also be backed by tech-giant Amazon who plans to have approximately 100,000 Rivian vans on the road by 2024 (Hawkins, 2019).

7. Tesla Unveils its Long Anticipated Cybertruck

Late this year, Tesla Motors finally unveiled its long anticipated all-electric Cybertruck! This unconventional vehicle’s retail price starts at $39,900.00 USD and competes in the truck category against Ford’s F-series and General Motor’s Chevrolet Silverado (Kolodny, 2019). While electric trucks are relatively new in the market, Elon Musk argues that it is only a matter of time when electric vehicles will soon replace traditional vehicles (Zraick, Boudette, & Victor, 2019).

Canadian Renewable Energy and Climate Action Energy Wins

6. Canada Pension Giant to Buy Pattern Energy

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board agrees to buy Pattern Energy Group for $2.6B. This purchase is a big move for the Toronto-based pension giant, allowing it to scale up and add renewables to its existing portfolio. Currently, Pattern Energy Group owns 28 wind and solar projects in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Mexico (Eckhouse and Martin, 2019).

5. Approval for $500M Southern Alberta Solar Project

This year, Alberta Utilities Commission granted approval for a $500M solar project – the largest of its kind in Canada! This solar facility is expected to be completed in 2021 in Vulcan County. Once completed, it will generate as much as 400 megawatts, enough to supply power to more than 100,000 homes (Global News, 2019).

4. Beaumont, Alberta, Leading the Charge in Autonomous Vehicles

Canada welcomes its first-ever electric autonomous (ELA) shuttle in Beaumont, Alberta! This pilot project, collaborated in partnership with the Pacific Western Transportation and the City of Beaumont, aims to integrate the latest self-driving technology with regular traffic (The City of Beaumont, 2019). Currently, the ELA only transports pedestrians for up to three blocks but is expected to expand over the next six months (Graf, 2019). The City of Beaumont hopes this initiative will attract national and global attention for being the first to test this type of vehicle in North America (Graf, 2019).   

Virtuoso Energy Renewable Energy and Climate Action Wins

3. Virtuoso Energy Celebrates 100 Renewable Energy Projects in Western Canada

In the summer of 2019, Virtuoso Energy celebrated its 100th renewable energy installation on a farm in Strathmore, Alberta. The 20.805kW solar photovoltaic system was designed to offset the farm’s energy consumption by 100 percent!  Our team was excited to celebrate our 100th renewable energy installation this past summer. This achievement was a great example of the quickly advancing future of what the amazing province of Alberta has to offer in the upcoming decade. The support from our clients, vendors and partners enabled us to complete all of these projects that added to our team’s confidence in the overall industry and our ability to execute in a marketplace that is ever changing and rapidly evolving. 

2. City Clean Up 2019

At the end of the summer of 2019, Virtuoso Energy organized a city clean-up by the Bow River at the City of Calgary. The initiative attracted over 35 volunteers who spent their Saturday morning cleaning up the river using eco-friendly compostable materials. In less than two hours, the volunteers collected over a dozen large bags of garbage in addition to unique finds such as empty suitcases, metal scraps, and shovels. The clean-up event shed light demonstrating that although Calgary is known as one of the cleanest cities in the world, there is so much more beneath the surface if we only look.

1. Kai Fahrion & Gursh Bal Win SAIT’s 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Virtuoso Energy ended 2019 on a high note celebrating founders Kai Fahrion and Gursh Bal’s nominated win for SAIT’s distinguished 2019 Outstanding Young Alumni Award. The award honours young graduates with a proven track record of leadership, demonstrated contributions in the community and exhibits outstanding achievements in the field of their endeavor. Fahrion and Bal put everything on the line to grow Canada’s renewable industry, starting Virtuoso Energy during one of Alberta’s worst economic recessions in history with little to no background in starting a business. Today, Virtuoso Energy has completed over 100 renewable energy projects across Western Canada with ambitious plans to bring sustainable solutions to every Canadian in the near future.


Boudette, N. E. (2019, April 24). Ford to Invest $500 Million in Rivian, a Tesla Rival. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/business/ford-rivian-investment.html.

Eckhouse, B., & Martin, C. (2019, November 4). Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-04/canada-pension-plan-to-buy-pattern-energy-for-a-discount.

Egan, M. (2019, November 19). Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/business/heliogen-solar-energy-bill-gates/index.html.

Fox, A. (2019, November 20). Bill Gates-backed startup achieves potential solar breakthrough. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/energy/471063-bill-gates-backed-solar-startup-generates-extreme-heat.

Hawkins, A. J. (2019, September 19). Amazon will order 100,000 electric delivery vans from EV startup Rivian, Jeff Bezos says. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/19/20873947/amazon-electric-delivery-van-rivian-jeff-bezos-order.

Global News. (2019, August 27). Approval received for $500M southern Alberta solar power project. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://globalnews.ca/news/5821917/travers-solar-project-alberta-approval/.

Graf, J. (2019, May 18). Electric autonomous vehicle hits the road in Beaumont. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://globalnews.ca/news/5285857/beaumont-autonomous-shuttle-no-driver/.

Kolodny, L. (2019, November 22). Tesla unveils its first electric pickup, the Cybertruck, starting at $39,900. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/21/tesla-cybertruck-unveiled.html.

The City of Beaumont. (2019). Autonomous Shuttle Pilot: Beaumont, AB. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://www.beaumont.ab.ca/583/Autonomous-Shuttle-Pilot.

Zraick, K., Boudette, N. E., & Victor, D. (2019, November 21). Tesla’s Electric ‘Cybertruck’ Is Unveiled. It’s Pointy. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/business/tesla-cybertruck-pickup-truck.html.

Photo Credits

Photo: CNBC

Photo: CNN

Photo: Global News

Photo: PV Tech

Photo: SAIT Alumni Association

Key Words

Environment, Environment Canada, Alberta, Edmonton, Calgary, British Columbia, SAIT, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Rivian, Heliogen, Tesla, Cybertruck, Tesla CyberTruck, Amazon, Amazon and Rivian, Ford and Rivian, Amazon Rivian Vans, General Motors, Ford F-Series, General Motor Chevrolet Silverado, Canada Pension Plan, Pattern Energy Group, Pattern Energy Group Wind, Pattern Energy Group Solar, United States, Mexico, Japan, Vulcan County Solar, Vulcan County, Beaumont Alberta, Beaumont, Alberta Electric Vehicle,  Beaumont electric autonomous shuttle, Strathmore Alberta, Strathmore Solar, City of Calgary, City of Calgary Solar, Renewable Energy in Canada, Environment Alberta, Renewable Energy Projects, Renewable Energy Alberta, Renewable Energy Calgary, Renewable Energy Edmonton, Environment Calgary, Alberta Entrepreneurs, Calgary Entrepreneurs, SAIT Alumni, Alberta sustainability, Calgary Solar, Edmonton Solar, Alberta Solar, Solar installers Alberta, Calgary solar installers, Edmonton solar installers, electric vehicle installers, Alberta Entrepreneurs, Calgary Entrepreneurs, Courses at SAIT, SAIT Alumni Association, 2019, 2019 Year End, Climate Action, Climate Action 2019