Jan 3, 2023
The industrial revolution was yesterday. The electrical revolution is now. Businesses and consumers alike are working to achieve Canada’s net zero targets. We’re seeing bold leadership across the country, innovative solutions across industries. In episode 102 of thinkenergy, we kick off 2023 with some of our favourite guests from the past year. Picking up from our retrospective, Part 2 highlights insights from experts in the energy sector, including Hydro Ottawa’s President and CEO, Bryce Conrad.
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Dan Seguin 00:06
This is think energy - the podcast that helps you better understand the fast changing world of energy through conversations with game changers, industry leaders, and influencers. So join me, Dan Segui n, as I explore both traditional and unconventional facets of the energy industry.
Dan Seguin 00:28
Hey, everyone, welcome back. This is the think energy podcast. And I'm Dan Seguin. Thanks for joining part two of our special holiday podcast as we kick off 2023 with one of the hottest topics in the energy sector net zero. As Canada moves towards its net zero targets, we are seeing companies take bold leadership and adopt new innovations. As they say the Industrial Revolution was yesterday, the electric revolution is now more and more Canadians are working towards their own net zero goals, not only because they feel compelled to do the policy, but because they feel it's the right thing to do. One look at the extreme weather we experienced across Canada last year, may give us a glimpse of why that is. For part two of our special holiday podcast we're focusing on Canada's transition to net zero, and how it will shape the future. I've gathered three of my favorite guests from the past year, and what they had to say about one of the biggest topics of the year. My first guest is Justin Rangoon, the Executive Director of Energy Storage Canada, energy storage means more than just batteries. There are many different technologies that can offset peak electricity consumption periods, ultimately preventing the need for expensive emission heavy infrastructure that could lead us away from our clean energy goals. Energy storage can help meet demand spikes and support wide scale deployment of renewable energy sources. Here's Justin to talk about some of the benefits.
Justin Rangooni 02:21
I think the best response would be I found a new analogy. And it was from the New Yorker in a recent article that talked about a bold energy storage provider in terms of optimizing the grids, the assets that are already on the grid. So what they talked about is when in situations when the wind is blowing, the sun is shining, the hydro, the water is flowing, the nuclear plants are humming, energy storage allows the electricity grid to inhale. And then when wind stopped blowing, or the sun's not shining, or the water is not flowing, or the nuclear plants aren't humming, what energy storage allows the grid is to exhale, and deliver that electricity to homes and businesses and charge devices. And so that's what energy storage can do is to optimize what it does if it's part of the overall solution, in terms of balancing the grid and optimizing what you have energy storage can do that. Because one of the benefits of energy storage is that it's portable. It can be situated anywhere in the province or in the country. And of every size and of all the various technologies available. There's lots to choose from. And as system planners can use that as a Swiss army knife to make it work where it has to. So we can balance the grid and optimize the assets and provide reliability. So energy storage is that solution provider for the energy system. So where did you serve can play that critical role of storing electricity when it's generated at times when maybe you don't need it. So instead of curtailing or spilling water, or nurses or maybe importing it or exporting it at a loss for that excess surplus generation, energy storage can store that electricity. So when there's peaks in demand, energy storage can use that the system planners can use the electricity that is stored during those peak demands, and to really start leveling out that need for the new peaker plants or existing peaker plants for that matter. So it's really storing the energy for future use. And that's why we're so excited about energy storage.
Dan Seguin 04:19
The pressure to tackle pollution and climate change is increasing as countries around the globe are eliminating greenhouse gases and transitioning away from fossil fuels. This shift towards a cleaner future involves a lot of moving parts especially as it relates to cleaning Canada's energy sector. Marren Smith, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at clean energy Canada shared her thoughts about whether Canada can affordably and realistically accelerate our clean energy transition to reach our net zero goals.
Marren Smith 04:58
There are three positive changes that I see. One, the costs of these clean energy technologies have dropped significantly. So the solutions are cheaper. Secondly, is that we really moved past the climate debate in Canada. And thirdly, is electric vehicles. And I just want to talk a bit about each of those if that's okay, so the costs of clean energy technologies, many people don't understand that. Over this last decade, the cost of solar has dropped yet again, it's dropped another 90%. Over the last decade, the cost of batteries, which are the heart of an electric vehicle, have dropped about 90%, and wind has dropped about 20%. And so, you know, a dozen years ago, clean energy Canada was talking about this coming, we need to prepare Canada needs to be aware as an oil and gas producer, we need to be looking at this clean energy transition. But now, it's here, these technologies are ready for primetime. And the economic opportunities are there to create jobs here in Canada around those clean energies. So that's significant. And the second one is I think we've all lived through and seen in the news, this debate about whether Canada should be acting on climate, whether it's real, whether Canada has any responsibility, whether it's feasible, and that's now become a real global conversation. And there's a clear message globally that we need to act now. And, you know, we've had over these last six years, the federal government, with the leadership that's aligning with those global efforts to act on climate. And in fact, this federal government has created the first climate plan that Canada had to meet our climate targets, and they're now really putting it into action. And so that's been a significant and positive shift that we're actually moving to action. And thirdly is around electric vehicles. And, you know, I just have to say them specifically. Because, in my observation, they really show Canadians what the transition looks like. It kind of looks like what it used to be, you know, an electric vehicle and a gas fired vehicle, they look pretty similar. But people are seeing how much better they are that they are more affordable to drive. And especially with today's price of gas, you know, if you're plugging in and charging your car, you know, your Chevy Bolt and getting 400 kilometers for somewhere, you know, depending on where you live in Canada, five to $10 versus what it's costing to fill up your car that's significant. So electric vehicles and how fast they have come online, how we have seen, the manufacturers shift is to go from we're resisting this to this as the future we want to be out in front and competing to be the ones who are going to be producing them. So that dramatic shift, it's really showing how we can link this decarbonisation climate action with the economy, that our industries can be successful and that we can really move forward towards Net Zero towards decarbonisation towards cleaner energies and continue with a strong economy if we do it right if we act now.
Dan Seguin 08:35
And my last guest is Bryce Conrad, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. Yep, my boss. Otherwise, the energy ecosystem is unique, with long standing localized and green generation. In fact, hydro Ottawa is the largest municipally owned producer of clean, renewable energy in Canada, with 131 megawatts of total green generation capacity, enough to power approximately 110,000 homes a year. Bryce joined us on the program early in 2022, to discuss the inspiration behind the company's decision to make its entire operation net zero by 2030. His answer was surprising.
Bryce Conrad 09:28
So YouTube, you can go back and view all these old speeches in March minute.But look, if you go back to JFK, in 1961, so he does this speech before for the joy of the House and Senate. And you know, it's not a long speech, I'd encourage everyone to go watch it. There's about a minute long clip that's irrelevant anyway.And in that speech, he says, we are going to go to the moon before the end of the decade, so he's doing this in 61. Obviously, they went to the moon in 69. So, as part of that he does something that people don't do enough of these days, right? He literally says, we're gonna go to the moon. So that's our objective, and I have no idea how we're gonna get there, I'm paraphrasing him. Obviously, I have no idea how we're gonna get there, the technology doesn't exist, the fuel doesn't exist, the booster rocket technology doesn't exist. And that kind of the capsule necessary to get someone to and from the moon doesn't exist today. So he's making this bold announcement, and then acknowledging that he doesn't know how they're going to do it. And I thought, that's just so quite frankly, refreshing in this day and age where everything is kind of prepackaged, right? Like, we know what we're going to do this next two years, but we already know that we've got it in the bag, and here's how it's going to be done. I like the idea of setting the big, hairy, audacious goal for the company and saying, I've said this to the management team, I have no clue how we're gonna get there. I know what we need to start doing. But I don't know what the answer is. But I work with some of the smartest people in the game. And I know that if, if they're empowered to do this, and we put our minds to this, we will do this, like, you know, and that's what Kennedy counted on 61. And that's lo and behold, but you know what happened? So, when I liken it to the moonshot, it's just that it's the big, hairy, audacious goal, without any real clear roadmap as to how to accomplish that goal. And I think quite frankly, that's what serves us best is when we don't necessarily have the answers we have to make up. We have to figure our way through this sort of stuff. And I see that every day at the company, right? If you look back at how we handled the tornadoes, if you look back at the way we handle the floods, if you look at the way we handle our system, yeah, there's a lot of prescriptive stuff. Yes, there's a lot of this is how we do things. But you know, there are a lot of days we throw out the rulebook, you throw out the manual, and you have to figure your way forward. And that's when this company is at its best. So that's the moonshot.
Dan Seguin 12:06
So thanks for joining me for part two of our advancing Net Zero Holiday special. We'll be back in two weeks on Monday, January 16, to be precise to kick off 2023 with all new shows, interesting guests and topics. I'm sure there'll be a few surprises also. Thanks for listening, folks. Happy New Year, everyone. Cheers.
Dan Seguin 12:32
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of The think energy podcast. And don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review wherever you're listening. And to find out more about today's guests or previous episodes, visit think energy podcast.com. I hope you'll join us again next time as we spark even more conversations about the energy of tomorrow.