2022 Smart Energy Conference Recap and Takeaways

Written by: Justin MacDonald

Hi Folks

It’s been a busy month as we move away from most of our Fiscal Year ends and transition to planning for this and next year’s projects. Speaking of “transition”, the “Net Zero Transition” (or some form of it) seems to be brought up in almost every discussion amongst peers these days. Most notably, last month Halifax hosted the 2022 SmartEnergy Event (18th annual) at the Westin Hotel. There was a great turnout, and of course it was great to see in-person conferences taking shape again.

The focus of the conference, as conveyed by the organizers, was on “timely actions for getting to NET-ZERO with expert speakers on how collaborative and inclusive technologies with collaborative thinking can achieve Net-Zero sooner. Emerging innovations in hydrogen, storage, EVs, carbon capture, transportation, electrification and renewables will change how utilities, municipalities, policy-makers, integrators, corporations, governments, researchers and consumers collaborate to reach an inclusive transition to NET-ZERO.”

The conference started with welcoming remarks and keynotes from Halifax’s Mayor Mike Savage and Karen Gatien, Deputy Minister, Department of Energy & Renewables, Government of Nova Scotia. Mayor Savage was elated (and with good reason) to discuss the progress of HalifACT. HalifACT is the municipality’s long-term climate action plan to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and safeguard communities as we transition to a clean, low-carbon, economy with opportunities for all. The plan was unanimously adopted by Regional Council on June 23, 2020. The 2022/23 municipal capital plan has $10 million in approved spending toward the HalifACT Climate Action Plan for this fiscal year and $109 million approved in principle for fiscal years 2023/24 and 2025/26. For more information on HalifACT: HalifACT | Adapt | Climate | Emissions | Energy | Community | Halifax

The conference then began a series of roundtable/ panel discussions generally around transitioning to Net-zero. These discussions ranged from affordability, remote communities and vulnerable citizens to regulatory and policy frameworks to hasten the Net-zero transition and technologies that can enhance it.

Some general themes and take-aways from the conference were:

  • Electricity grid will need to be expanded rapidly to accommodate the Net-zero transition. Forecasts show anywhere from a 2 to 4 times increase to the current electricity grid capacity by 2050. A recent article produced by the Climate Institute called “The Big Switch” covers this topic and the regulatory and policy items mentioned above: https://climateinstitute.ca/reports/big-switch/
  • Introduced Hydrogen as a key player in the energy transition. However, developing hydrogen “hubs” across the County are key to a higher adoption of hydrogen at competitive price points. For some introduction on the various ways hydrogen can be utilized (green hydrogen, blue hydrogen, etc.), refer to Heritage Gas website: https://www.heritagegas.com/net-zero/
  • Technologies are available – USE them (paraphrasing from the roundtable discussion provided by Professor Jeff Dahn, Dalhousie University). Available technologies – Intelligent building controls, energy storage systems, renewable energy + electrification, heat pump systems, carbon capture and sequestration, etc. – need to be adopted more prevalently, not just talked about!

Another useful resource discussed at this conference was provided by Kathleen Mifflin, Project Manager for the Net Zero Atlantic (formerly OERA). Net Zero Atlantic is developing an Atlantic Canada Energy Systems (ACES) model. The ACES model uses the open-source modelling framework, Temoa (Tools for Energy Model Optimization Analysis). With the objective of optimizing capacity and minimizing the cost of energy supply, Temoa acts as the “engine” of ACES to produce scenario results based on Atlantic Canada-specific values and parameters. Using an open-source model like ACES provides researchers, policymakers, industry, and NGOs with the insight needed to effectively reduce emissions and beneficially participate in the energy system transition. When this model is made available, it may be provide local/regional/provincial governments and other organizations with useful information to help inform their transition to Net-zero. Visit here for additional information: netzeroatlantic.ca/acesmodel/about

Bye for now,


Justin MacDonald, P.Eng., CEM, CMVP, CBCP is a Senior Energy Engineer at Eastpoint Engineering operating out of Halifax, NS. He has spent over 11 years assisting clients with reducing their energy costs, improving production efficiency, leveraging incentive funding, and providing turn-key project solutions. In addition, Justin sits on the board of the AEE Canada East as a VP Atlantic, helping to build a strong and thriving community of professionals dedicated to advancing energy efficiency, decarbonization and resiliency.

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