Home Regular Contributors Elan MacDonald Renewable Energy Will Affect Your Business Sooner Than You Think

Renewable Energy Will Affect Your Business Sooner Than You Think

Elan MacDonald

This past fall, world leaders and world-leading thinkers met in Egypt for COP27, the world’s biggest conference on climate change – and Alberta was there.

Our delegation to the conference included the provincial government; Mayor Amarjeet Sohi; Bill Flanagan, University of Alberta president and industry.

Our participation on this global stage highlights ways in which our province will continue to lead the shift into a low net carbon economy. Alberta is already an energy powerhouse. We have decades of experience at the forefront of this sector and we have the expertise, infrastructure and partnerships to create resilient, real-world energy solutions. This lends a unique opportunity to Edmonton businesses to be on the forefront of the opportunities that come along with the change.

Though the energy transition is expected to take decades, the efforts to reduce the impact of hydrocarbon-based energy are already in full swing and will affect your business sooner than you think.

“Many changes that are part of the energy transition will be at a vast utility scale and will change how our energy companies operate, what they specialize in and how they do business.” M Anne Naeth, director of Future Energy Systems at the University of Alberta told me. “So, it’s important for businesses to understand what the future looks like, pay attention to new developments in their sector and be willing to invest in a change.”

I’m fortunate to have a front-row seat to much of the energy transition action at the University of Alberta, including the innovative work on smart grids being done by Dr. Ryan Li, a U of A professor of electrical and computer engineering, and his research team in the Elite Grid Research Lab.

As the renewables grow, we’ll need smart grids to handle the energy they produce. Fossil fuels deliver steady, stable power all the time. But energy from renewable sources shows up at different times and intensities and our current grid was not designed for that. Smart grids can also help address a challenge with electric vehicles. This work will help ensure that in the future when we all plug in our electric vehicles at the same time, we won’t accidentally collapse the power grid, which was never designed to handle so much demand.

Having people like Li here in Edmonton — among many others working on cutting-edge energy tech like electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage technology and cleaner fuels like hydrogen — ensures that Alberta continues to attract the people that will invest in and grow our energy transition and our economy.