Think Energy

Rewind Episode: Coming Clean About a Clean Electricity Future

Feb 19, 2024

Rewind episode: The pressure to tackle pollution and climate change is increasing, as countries worldwide are eliminating greenhouse gases and moving away from fossil fuels. This shift towards a cleaner future has a lot of moving parts, especially as it relates to cleaning Canada’s energy sector. Merran Smith, founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Clean Energy Canada, joins us to talk about whether Canada can affordably and realistically accelerate our clean energy transition to reach our net zero goals.

Related links

To subscribe using Apple Podcasts 

To subscribe using Spotify

To subscribe on Libsyn


Subscribe so you don't miss a video on YouTube

Check out our cool pics on Instagram

More to Learn on Facebook

Keep up with the Posts on X


Dan Seguin  00:06

This is thinkenergy, 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 Seguin, as I explore both traditional and unconventional facets of the energy industry. Hey, everyone, welcome back. Today, we're coming clean about what clean energy could look like in the near future. That's right. And with the help of our guests, we're going to define what clean energy means, specifically for Canada and the future of electricity. There is a rising pressure around the globe to transition away from fossil fuels, eliminate greenhouse gases, and challenge the status quo when it comes to pollution and tackling climate change. What does that mean for Canada and our place in a clean energy world? Obviously, there's a lot of moving parts when it comes to cleaning Canada's energy sector, particularly when it comes to transportation, and heating of our buildings. But there's more to it than just that. There's renewable energy, revamping and expanding the electricity grid and conserving energy. Not to mention innovation and technology that doesn't exist yet. That will all play a role in getting us to Canada's Net Zero targets. So here's today's big question. Can Canada affordably and realistically accelerate its transition to clean energy in time? Our guest today is Marren Smith, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Clean Energy Canada is a leading Think Tank, advancing clean energy and climate solutions. Marren has won numerous awards for her work and also serves as co chair of the BC government's Climate Solutions Council. Okay, Marren, let's kick things off by telling our listeners about yourself, your work, and what Clean Energy Canada is.

Marren Smith  02:23

Yeah, so I'll start with Clean Energy Canada, we're a think tank based at Simon Fraser University's Center for dialogue. And we focus on solutions to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. And so what do we actually do? You know, we do think tank things like analysis and policy advice. But what makes us really different is that one, we focus on the solutions, not the problems, all about solutions to we really like to bring together business industry unions, get everybody in the room and see if we can get consensus around the advice to governments so that they can move solutions forward faster. And thirdly, what we do is we do a lot of talking to Canadians about the energy transition, how it links to jobs, to a nick strong economy and more affordability. And so we think of ourselves actually as a do tank and not a think tank. And myself, I'm a fellow at Simon Fraser University, I founded Clean Energy Canada, I'm now moved on, I'm no longer the Executive Director. I'm the Chief Innovation Officer. And I had been asked over the years, in the last 10 years doing this work, to co chair a number of Climate and Energy advisory bodies for both the federal and British Columbia governments. And I think that's because I have a pretty long track record of bringing together unusual allies around solutions to environmental energy and economy problems. So that's a bit about me.

Dan Seguin  04:09

Now, I'm somewhat curious, how does Clean Energy Canada define clean energy? Is it in relation to zero emissions? Or is there more to it than that?

Marren Smith  04:22

Yeah, so for us, we talk about clean energy spanning both energy supply. So renewable electricity, for example, solar, wind, thermal, but also demand. And so our definition of clean energy includes, like, as I said, renewable electricity generation, but also energy storage, energy transmission, energy efficiency, and any of the technologies or services that decarbonize transportation buildings in these and other polluting parts of our economy. So we have a fairly large definition of clean energy. And you know it really, when you look at it, that is what energy is all about. It's not just about making the energy. It's about how you use it and the technology so that you can use it more efficiently.

Dan Seguin  05:18

Clean Energy Canada has been advocating for climate action since 2010; 12 years in what are three positive changes that have made the biggest impact in Canada? And what is one that has hindered success?

Marren Smith  05:37

Yeah, this is a great question. So the three positive changes that I see is, one, the cost of these clean energy technologies have dropped significantly. So the the solutions are cheaper. Secondly, is that we've 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 those last decade, the cost of batteries, which are the heart of an electric vehicle have dropped about 90%, wind has dropped about 40%. And so, you know, a dozen years ago, clean energy Canada was talking about this is 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 eccotemp economic opportunities are there to create jobs here in Canada around those clean energies. So that's significant. Um, 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 this last six years, 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's 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 the 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 ten dollars 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 netzero towards decarbonisation towards cleaner energies. And, you know, continue with a strong economy if we do at night, right if we act now. And I guess Lastly, about electric vehicles, it's for anybody who hasn't gotten in one yet, you really should, because they're pretty fun to drive. And that's what we want this energy transition to be. We want it to be make life better. And I think electric vehicles are just one way that people can see how, you know, once you get over the hurdle of purchasing one, it does make life better, cleaner air, more affordable to drive. Now, you asked the other question, what's hindered success? And I would say what's really hindered Canada's movement on all of this has been the debate and the governments that have really ripped up climate action or refused to move forward on climate action. And, you know, that's created uncertainty. So we've seen various governments in Ontario in Alberta, you know, federally across the country, I shouldn't just name those provinces, because across the country, governments who come in and who are not willing to take action on climate and really want to stick with the static quo. And that really creates a lot of uncertainty for business and doesn't drive the change. I'm really hopeful that we're not going to see that anymore. You know, now that we've seen this new inflation reduction act out of the United States, it is sending a clear signal that this is the biggest economic opportunity that there has been, you know, in this generation, absolutely. To drive and build this clean energy economy, they are investing heavily in it. And we're going to see in the United States, those kinds of investments happening all over the country, you know, in red states and blue states, blue collar workers are going to be you know, being employed in plants, white collar workers, rural urban, this, this is going to be a massive, massive growth for industries and the economy, in producing electricity producing batteries and producing all the component pieces towards them hydrogen, retrofitting buildings. So there is a huge boom coming. And I hope that in Canada, we actually see our government picking up on that as well and linking this decarbonisation with our economic strategy.

Dan Seguin  11:55

Marren, what do you mean when you state that the Clean Energy Transition is a once in a generation opportunity for Canada to build a resilient, growing and inclusive economy?

Marren Smith  12:10

Yeah, so we've just talked about how we're really seeing around the globe, you know, the United States, but we've been seeing this in the EU and the UK and China, this, you know, linking up their industrial strategy, their economic strategy, to their economic strategies. And so Canada really has what it takes to make this shift as well to, you know, take action on climate decarbonize and really shift from fossil fuels oriented economy to a clean energy or renewable energy economy. So we have the natural resources that are going to be needed, you know, those metals and minerals, for example, we're going to be needing that steel, that cobalt, that nickel to be building the transmission lines, the solar panels, and in particular, the batteries, which are really the heart of the clean energy system. So Canada has what it takes. And then secondly, we've got the clean electricity or grids about 83% clean or zero mission right now. We've got a skilled labor force. So that's what the opportunity is, it's going to be a massive effort for us to retool our existing industries and build some of these new industries. But we've got the potential to do it.

Dan Seguin  13:40

Next question. Now, what makes Canada well positioned to be a global clean energy leader?

Marren Smith  13:48

So Canada's got the natural resources that we talked about metals and minerals, forest products, agricultural products, we've got great solar and wind resources and a grid that's already at 3% zero emission. We have great potential for green hydrogen. And, you know, we've got great trading relationships with the US as well as Europe and Asia. So we are positioned to be creating clean energy and one of the things that we are uniquely positioned around our batteries. Batteries are going to be the heart of the energy system. So they're obviously the heart of the electric vehicle. But also, large scale batteries are going to be what backs up that intermittent or variable wind and solar and renewable energies, they're going to be a part of the system as well. And so Canada is the only country in the Western world. It's actually the only democratically elected country that has all the metals and minerals needed to produce batteries. So In addition, we've got the good clean electricity to actually manufacture those metals and minerals and turn them into, you know, refine them, turn them into cells and ultimately batteries. So we've got the key components there. And that one huge opportunity for Canada. And we're seeing you know, this federal government has been working with Ontario and Quebec and landing some significant battery company investments, you know, GM and Bay calm for this year, LG and still Lantus in Ontario. So that's I some of the key parts of why Canada is so well positioned to be a clean energy leader.

Dan Seguin  15:45

Next question for you. What are the strategies you employ to achieve your mission to accelerate Canada's transition to a renewably powered economy?

Marren Smith  15:56

Yeah, so one, I think that we work with businesses, industry unions, to understand what their needs are, you know, we're positioned at the Center for dialogue at Simon Fraser University. And so we use dialogue, bring people together, structure it so that we can have a deliberate conversation that gets us to advice for government. So that's one of the strategies we employ. A second one is, you know, we look around the world and we find out what policies are working elsewhere, what programs, what are other countries doing that's working? And what can we glean out of that, and use in the Canadian context, and feed that kind of information to governments and to industry about what they can do next? Because Kevin does not the only one doing this, and there's a lot of countries that are ahead of us on this. So let's learn from them, and Canadian eyes it. And then lastly, we really have an eye to bringing the public along with us in this conversation, ensuring that they understand the Clean Energy Transition exactly what does it mean, understand some of the policies when they get controversial? And understand what's in it for them? You know, and right now we're seeing a public that is got, you know, a lot of insecurity going on with the global state of affairs, the war in the Ukraine, you know, this energy prices escalating, there's a lot of misinformation going on. And so, actually having the public understand and see how they fit into the energy transition, and how it's going to make life better for them, is, I'd say, a very important part of the transition. And so we do what we can we actually study how to communicate with the public and study language, what works with them, what resonates and how to get the stories to them that are going to help them understand this energy transition, what they can do, and what they can support.

Dan Seguin  18:06

Marren wondering if you could unpack for our listeners, what are some of the ways clean energy Canada has contributed to our country's progress in the last year or two?

Marren Smith  18:19

Yeah, so we have been working hard over the last couple of years. And I'll tell you about some of the significant achievements that I think we've been part of making happen. So first is about electric vehicles, or zero emission vehicles, as they're called in some circles. We see these as a key part of the solution, and one that is getting ready for primetime. They're a key part of the solution, because one quarter of Canada's carbon pollution is from transportation. So we've got to tackle this and about half of it from passenger vehicles, half of it's from trucks and buses. And so we've been working on both sides of that equation. And one of the things that had become the barrier has been supply of cars. At this point, people want them and we're seeing the uptake of those cars, you know, double and triple year over year. And so how do you get the supply here and how you do that through a policy called the zero emission vehicle mandate that requires the automakers to sell them in, in Canada. And so that's one that we've been working on. We actually were successful in getting one in British Columbia. And you know, and I have to report to you that so far in 2022 17% of new car sales have been electric vehicles. So that just far outpaces what people predicted. I think we were trying to get to 10% by 2025. We've blown through that we've now increased our targets because clearly for Colombians are ready to buy them. And there's similar types of stats from Quebec, who also has a zero emission vehicle mandate. The challenge for the rest of the country, and you know, if you're in Ottawa, you're probably going and putting your name on the list. And it's multiple years, you might not even be able to get on the list anymore, because there just aren't any cars. And so we need a federal zero emission vehicle mandate that requires the companies to the automakers to sell electric vehicles in Canada, or they're penalized. So that's one thing that we've made good progress on and contributed to. One that I haven't talked much about, that I'll mention here is about the steel sector, the cement sector, these heavy industries that are also heavy polluters. And, you know, so that's another area we've been working on and looking for solutions. We're looking at, okay, much of this steel, cement, aluminum, it's all being used in the construction industry. So how do we get those who are building things and buying things to demand low carbon steel, low carbon cement, which will really help these industries put it'll push them to to decarbonize and so that program is called by clean. The biggest purchaser of steel and cement and, and these types of things in the country is the government and we've been working to get the government to commit to a bike clean policy. The really interesting thing is that the steel sector, the cement sector, the aluminum sector V, these sectors are really on board to decarbonizing, this is globally happening. We're seeing all of these industries recognize that they cannot be admitting the scale of pollution, they are right now they've got to reduce that carbon pollution get to net zero. And so, again, we're seeing progress on reducing emissions in that sector. And we're seeing, you know, the United States and Canada have actually said that they are going to work together on this bike lanes so that both countries are pushing that they will procure, they will only purchase low, lower carbon, steel, cement, etc, for building our hospital, roads, schools, and all those good things. So that's another one that I'd say we could say we've been involved with, and batteries, I've already talked about it. We've been involved in the batteries for the last few years, and bringing together that sector, from the mining sector, all the way up to battery producers and electric vehicle, you know, the automatic factoring companies like GM, and all the way to the recyclers, and working with government to get, you know, a battery strategy for Canada to really ensure that we lock in and land the most jobs and the most opportunities for Canadians across the country. And these would be jobs in different provinces and opportunities for different provinces, you know, rural urban jobs, etc. So it's a big opportunity, but Canada's got to act quickly if we really want to get the most benefits from it. And by the most benefits, I mean, we could be creating a quarter of a million jobs by 2030 in this sector, which would be good for the country and will help us as we're transitioning, you know, out of other job sectors.

Dan Seguin  23:36

Okay, Marren, are you able to expand on some of Clean Energy Canada's short term goals?

Marren Smith  23:44

Yeah. So I would say right now, our top short term goal is around public awareness and understanding how shifting to clean energy is going to help affordability for Canadians. I think this is critical and important, because you know, this electrification, people are very sensitive to the price of electricity and increasing costs of electricity. And so there's a piece of work to ship to understanding what your overall energy costs are. So as we move off of fossil fuels, that means you're not spending as much on gas anymore. You know, for your gas fired car, but your electricity bill is going to go up. As you shift off of the having gas to heat and cool your home and shifting to an electric heat pump, their electricity bills can go up. We did some research earlier this year. Report called the true cost looking at some of the top models of cars in Canada, what it costs to purchase one plus run it over eight years, and we'll probably talk a bit more about this letter later. So just to say having Canadians under stand that this shift, while it's gonna have some costs in the short term is a more affordable and a better option for Canadians.

Dan Seguin  25:11

You recently contributed to a white paper with Electric Mobility Canada, on how Canada can design an effective zero emission vehicle mandate. I'm curious, what are some of your recommendations?

Marren Smith  25:27

Yeah. So, I'd say trying to do this in a nutshell. So first of all, is accountability. So we need to ensure that automakers are accountable and keeping pace with demand. And we need to do that with legally binding annual sales requirements so that they have to sell X percent of cars that are electric, and that there's serious financial penalties for non compliance. And that's, that's really the nuts and bolts of a good zero emission vehicle mandate. There's a whole bunch of details in there. Some provinces, like you mentioned, Quebec, and BC, they already have one, so we just need to use this in provinces that don't have them. And then our other key aspect of the recommendations was speed, we need to really finalize this regulation next year, so that it takes effect with model year 2024. There's really no time to wait on this. And we can see the demand for cars is there. We really need to be able to get them into the hands of people right now while they want them.

Dan Seguin  26:37

Now, for my first follow up question, we all know that the lack of supply is a big issue when it comes to zero emission vehicle sales. What's driving that? Are automakers prioritizing other markets? Where they're required to sell more EVs?

Marren Smith  27:00

Yeah, well, that's exactly what we're seeing here. In Canada, the majority of the electric vehicles are going to British Columbia and Quebec, because they're required to sell them there. And, you know, they're going to other states in the United States that have similar types of mandates California at one, but there's a button doesn't down there. And so they're sending them where they need to, you know, in the past, they have been making more money selling, you know, SUVs, for example, those bigger, heavier cars are where they've been making most of their profits. And so they're trying to get rid of those in Canada while they can. But this world is accelerating so quickly. You know, I think once we get the zero emission vehicle mandate, that rules so that the automakers have to sell the cars, we're going to start seeing them arrive in Canada, and we've seen, you know, the Detroit three have all been doubling and tripling their commitment for how fast they're going to start getting cars going and coming off the line. And I think we're going to only see that accelerate in the future. So I'm hoping that, you know, it looks like the automakers are more and more committing to be producing the cars. So the next obstacle is going to be the supply chain and whether they can get the batteries and get the other materials to make them.

Dan Seguin  28:34

Okay, another follow up question for you, Marren. Are there provinces in Canada that get prioritized for EV over others for example, Quebec, or maybe BC?

Marren Smith  28:46

Yeah, absolutely. That's why there's there certain car makes and models that you can only get in BC and Quebec, and that will be related to the zero emission vehicle mandate, you know, they, they get, there's a stick and if they don't sell enough cars, they get penalized. So they make sure the cars are in BC and Quebec and that's really the best selling feature for why we need this to be a national program and have a federal zero emission vehicle mandate.

Dan Seguin  29:16

Now hand in hand with that, you convened a select group of industry stakeholders and other experts to develop a report on advancing the Canadian evey battery sector. What were some of the key takeaways from those consultations?

Marren Smith  29:34

Yeah, so the report we produced which you can find on our website at talks about this opportunity, and it is huge to produce batteries. We're talking upwards of 250,000 jobs by 2030 and $40 billion annually going to the Canadian revenues. So that's a great opportunity, but it's not going to happen without you. No creating a strategy to get there. And that is the top recommendation from this group of industry and other experts. The Canadian battery Task Force is what they're called, the top recommendation is we need to have a Canadian battery strategy, which is going to ensure that we target and focus the investment dollars in the right place, that we get the workforce setup. Because, you know, while we do have a great workforce in Canada, we're going to need more workers and with the right skills, and that we make sure that we get the infrastructure, we get the electricity, the clean electricity to the right places, and then we've got enough of it. You know, we've seen almost every battery Manor battery manufacturing plant, that set up so far, has mentioned the zero emission electricity that you can get in Canada. And that's one of the reasons why they chose to build in Canada. And these are big global companies that are choosing to land in Ontario and Quebec so far. And so we just, we need that kind of strategy to ensure that we can get the most out of this battery opportunity.

Dan Seguin  31:16

I like that. Okay. Let's move on. Can you tell us about your recent analysis that found electric vehicles are in fact cheaper, often by a lot than their gas counterpart? What models were you comparing and what factors were considered?

Marren Smith  31:38

Yeah, so we looked at some of the best selling cars in Canada. Things like the Chevy Bolt as the electric versus its gas counterpart, the Toyota Corolla, the Hyundai Kona versus the electric Kona, the Nissan LEAF versus the Honda Civic etcetera. So we did this for a number of the top selling cars, we looked at purchasing it, as well as operating it and maintaining it over an eight year period. And, you know, what we found is that in almost every case, you were saving money. And you know, we've had to update this because the price of gas has gone up so much. But the total costs savings are going electric range from 10 to $15,000, over eight years. That's significant savings. And, you know, as you talked about, you know, you notice that there's almost no maintenance costs for an electric vehicle. And that your cost of fueling is, you know, so much cheaper. And this was before gas was at $2, a leader. So roughly back the envelope, you know, those savings are going to jump in, for example, the Kona to about $18,000 or more, a lot of people don't understand how much more affordable an electric vehicle is. And they look at the sticker price of buying a new car. And that's what turns them away. At you know, so we're encouraging people to really understand, look at the long term. And we know that not everybody can go buy a new car, I didn't buy a new car ever in my life till I bought an electric vehicle. I always bought used cars. But the savings are significant. And of course, the added bonus is the you know, zero emissions, you're part of the solution and helping with climate change.

Dan Seguin  33:42

Okay, a follow up question here. Were there any expectations here?

Marren Smith  33:47

Yeah, so the Ford electric F-150. It was pretty close. Probably now if we did it with the the price or cost of gas now, you would actually be more affordable on the Ford F-150 We haven't gone back to it. The other thing to note on this is that electric vehicles are really holding their value. So if you're someone who likes to buy a new car and sell it in eight or so years, your electric vehicle used car sales are much higher than when you buy a new gas fire vehicle and then sell it off.

Dan Seguin  34:27

When it comes to the electricity grid Canada is 83% emission free and with lower electricity rates than many other countries. We seem to be in an enviable position. But in your report underneath it all. Your findings show that Canada may not be as prepared for a carbon neutral world, as we may think. Now, for the big question, why is that?

Marren Smith  34:55

Yeah, we are ahead. But it's not just about Getting from 83% zero emission to 100%. If that was the only challenge before us, you know, it would take some work, but that's extremely doable. But this energy transition is really the whole sale, reengineering of many of our supply chains, almost the entirety of the energy system that powers the economy, it's huge. And we are going to need to double the amount of electricity we produce by 2050, as we shift our cars or homes or businesses off of fossil fuels and onto the grid. So that's the main message of our report is, you know, we need we have great opportunity here. But we need to double the size of the grid so that we are able to plug our cars and our home heating and cooling and our industries into that zero emission grid.

Dan Seguin  35:53

Okay, follow up question here. What are four reasons Canada needs to achieve 100%? clean electricity supply? And what are some of your recommendations?

Marren Smith  36:06

Yeah. So, you know, first off, it's so that we can effectively combat climate change. And that's, you know, top reason why we're doing this, it's also going to diversify and strengthen Canada's economy. You know, as I said, companies are looking to be powered by zero emission electricity. We've seen those battery plants coming here, one of the reasons cited, and there's more opportunities as more of the the world's industries really focus on how are they going to be net zero, for example, we see Walmart and Amazon, those companies are looking for supply chains that are zero emission, they're counting their carbon, and that includes their transportation. So it's, it's about making Canada competitive and ensuring that we are an attractive place because we can power our economy and our communities with clean electricity. The third reason is around the potential for indigenous reconciliation efforts in clean energy ownership. I think this is a very exciting opportunity. There's already a lot of indigenous communities that own or are partners in clean energy, and we can expand that as this moves forward. And then lastly, is we started talking about affordability on this podcast. And, you know, once you get over the purchasing of the new technologies, it's really more affordable to be plugged into a zero emission grid. And that's going to create more certainty, more security around energy supply.

Dan Seguin  37:51

Marren, what are some of the other benefits to increasing Canada's clean electricity supply?

Marren Smith  37:58

So you know, one, we need clean electricity to meet our climate targets. Secondly, it's around affordability. This is going to help make energy more affordable for communities. And then another benefit. It's clean air, of course, you know, once you shift off of diesel buses, for example, to electric buses out of diesel trucks to electric trucks, you're really cleaning up air quality in cities in particular, but in all communities. And then there's another potential benefit. You know, Canada, most people don't know this, we actually export 8%, for electricity right now to America, that brings in $2.6 billion. And you know, the US has the same commitments around getting to 100% clean electricity grid by 2035. There's a lot dirtier than ours, they've got a lot of catching up to do. And there's a potential for Canada that has an enormous wealth of potential for renewable electricity across the country. Places like you know, Alberta and Saskatchewan have incredible solar resources. We have wind opportunities, you know, offshore onshore. So there's potential for us to be investing in clean electricity, not just for our own needs, but as a immensely valuable export that's going to be in demand in the United States. And then link to that economic opportunity is green hydrogen. We're hearing more about hydrogen can something that Europe's looking at shifting off of natural gas onto green hydrogen, which is made you know, with water getting split with electricity and turned into hydrogen so that's a good clean energy source and something that candidate could also be a leader in.

Dan Seguin  39:56

Okay, tough part is over. We always end our interviews with some rapid fire questions. We've got some for you. Are you ready?

Marren Smith  40:07

I am. I'm ready. Okay,

Dan Seguin  40:09

So for the first one, what are you reading right now?

Marren Smith  40:12

So I just read picked up a book that I read a number of years ago, The Hearts Invisible Theories by John Bowen. It takes place in Ireland in the starts in the 40s, and follows the life of the other boy, that a man as he's going through, really coming into his own and discovering himself, and it's just beautifully written really great book.

Dan Seguin  40:40

Okay. What would you name your boat if you had one? Or do you have one?

Marren Smith  40:45

Well, you know, I lived on one for 11 years. And that boat was called Potential, but I thought about this permanent name of boat. Right now. I might name it unplugged, you know, because it would be the the ticket to just taking off and, and having some fun.

Dan Seguin  41:03

Who is someone that you admire?

Marren Smith  41:06

Yeah, I don't know, if you've heard of Christiana Figueres she was, for a number of years, the United Nations UNFCCC, which was the framework on climate change in the UN, she was the executive secretary there, she is just a fantastic climate leader, she is always positive. She continues to be optimistic in spite of all the challenges in this world, and so it got a smile on her face while she continues to do this work.

Dan Seguin  41:43

Next question, what is the closest thing to real magic that you've witnessed?

Marren Smith  41:50

Maybe 15 years ago, I used to work up in what's called the Great Bear Rainforest off the coast of British Columbia, we're taking our group of people out to go see the place and experience it the beautiful ancient rainforest, an area the size of Ireland. And we were whalewatching, watching humpback whales, and they go around in a circle, and they blow their bubbles and make a net out of it. And then they all go down, and they come up in the middle. So there was four of them doing this and they come up in the middle, they make that net around a little school of fish, and they open their mouths and come up and and scoop up all the fish. And we were watching them do that. And then suddenly, I looked off this side of the boat, and there was all these little fish leaping out of the water. And suddenly, the whales picked up our boat and lifted it out of the water. And so it was just amazing. And there they were, then they just kind of sit around at the top, we could have just reached over and pat them. And then I was like, oh my god, I just I wonder if they're hurt. And as we sat there, they all sort of swam away. And they completely breached came out of the water from nose from tip to tail, you could see them all, they hadn't done this before, one after the other all for them. So you could see that they were just fine. And then they swam away.

Dan Seguin  43:24

Okay, moving on to the next one here. What has been the biggest challenge to you personally, since the pandemic began?

Marren Smith  43:32

Yeah, it's been this plethora of Zoom meeting staring at a screen hours after hour. And I'll tell you that I zipped out and got myself a stationary bike. And so during those zoom calls, everybody at first was laughing at me because I'd be kind of wiggling back and forth as I rode the bike slowly, just to keep myself going. And now all kinds of colleagues have now purchased stationary bikes as well.

Dan Seguin  44:09

Okay. We've all been watching a lot more Netflix and TV lately. What's your favorite movie or show right now?

Marren Smith  44:17

You know, a number of months ago, my family and I went to see The Last City with Sandra Bullock just like a ridiculous funny comedy and I was laughing out loud. And I was just like, you know, it was after the depths of COVID. It just felt great to laugh out loud at something that was just completely goofy and frivolous.

Dan Seguin  44:43

Lastly, what's exciting you about your industry right now?

Marren Smith  44:49

It's the potential for the speed of change. You know, things are moving quickly. And it's that things can move quickly now Technology is ready for primetime. public understands that we need to take climate action. And governments and business are really seeing that economic strategy is going, you know, is is so linked to climate action. They see them as one in the same decarbonisation is what the economic future looks like.

Dan Seguin  45:25

Well, Marren, we've reached the end of another episode of the thinkenergy podcast, if our listeners want to learn more about you and your organization, how could they connect?

Marren Smith  45:37

Yeah, you can find us at And you can also sign up on that for the Clean Energy Review, which is an email we send out every Monday morning that I hear from people in all walks of life from CEOs and ministers to receptionists and friends who don't even work in this. It's got the top 10 upbeat, optimistic solution based stories of the week, you can scan it in two minutes, or you can click on things and dive into these things in more details.

Dan Seguin  46:11

Again, Marren, thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you had a lot of fun. Cheers.

Marren Smith  46:16

I do. Thanks a lot for having me.

Dan Seguin  46:19

Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the thinkenergy 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 I hope you'll join us again next time as we spark even more conversations about the energy of tomorrow.