Electricity Transformation Canada Conference: Attendee Perspective

Written by: Mitchell Niles, P.Eng.

From November 17th to November 19th, 2021 the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) hosted its inaugural Electricity Transformation Canada conference at the Metro Toronto Conference Centre. This was the first conference for CanREA since the amalgamation of the former Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). As well, this was the first in-person event for this association since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On day 1 CanREA launched it’s 2050 Vision for Canada which outlines 5 key tasks required from governments, utilities, system operators and regulators:

  1. Decarbonize Canada’s electricity production by 2035
  2. Modernize Canada’s electricity markets and regulatory structures to enable the lowest-cost pathway to grid decarbonization and expansion
  3. Build new wind, solar and energy storage in Canada, ensuring cost-effective outcomes from procurement processes for new decarbonized electricity generation
  4. Rethink Canada’s electricity infrastructure investments and seek to minimize the cost of new transmission and distribution infrastructure needed to expand electricity production.
  5. Use decarbonized electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada’s transportation, buildings, and industry sectors.

The full 2050 Vision document is accessible on CanREA’s website (renewablesassociation.ca/2050-vision/).

The conference itself consisted of an exhibitor trade-show floor, concurrent presentation, plenary presentations, and keynote lunch presentations. Below are some of the key take-aways from the conference that AEE Canada East chapter members may find interesting:

  • While Ontario has historically had the largest solar and wind industry in Canada, Alberta is booming with new construction activity for large utility scale solar and wind projects.
  • Nova Scotia is becoming a more active area for the solar industry with the anticipated increase to the net-metering capacity limit of 100 kW.
  • Large scale solar and wind power plants are not only becoming cost competitive with traditional generation, but they are increasingly the lowest cost form of energy.
  • Solar PV modules are continuing to improve in efficiency without requiring an increase to the module size. The levelized cost of energy continues to decrease making solar energy cost competitive or the least cost option in more and more applications.
  • Solar PV as Distributed Energy Resources is increasingly popular in applications beyond traditional rooftop systems. Mitrex had an interactive display of their Building Integrated Photovoltaics cladding material that integrates renewable energy into the building’s material. Bluewave-ai provided a presentation on the benefit artificial intelligence can provide to energy systems by controlling energy loads/storage to maximize renewable energy production.
  • Since the amalgamation of the two associations, CanREA has seen a growth in membership from technology agnostic consulting firms. The amalgamation has benefited the association with an increase to their policy team to support lobbying efforts across the country at the provincial and federal levels. CanREA continues to be a single point of contact for the ever-changing renewable energy policy landscape in Canada.

Overall, I found the in-person conference was an excellent opportunity to meet with technology developers, service providers, and clients in support of my firm’s work on the integration of low carbon technologies into the built environment.

Electricity Transformation Canada 2022 is already scheduled for October 26th, 2022 to October 28th, 2022 in Toronto.

Mitchell Niles, P.Eng. is an Energy Systems Engineer at J.L. Richards and Associates Ltd. with over 7 years’ experience in the solar industry. He is an experienced sustainable energy systems designer skilled in system sizing and definition with focused expertise in the design and deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and battery energy storage systems (BESS).

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