Dec 21, 2020
While we mostly want to say "Bah humbug" and forget 2020 ever happened, for me, there were some special moments and amazing guests that I had on the show this year who are worth remembering. In this episode, we look at the 12 days of podcast past with some of the most fascinating people I spoke to this year. You'll hear from industry experts about E-bikes, district and renewable energy, EVs and more. So here's today's big question: What did you learn from the ThinkEnergy podcast this year?
Host: Dan Seguin, Brandy Giannetta, Francis Bradley, Andrea Flowers, Jeff Westeinde, Seth Weintraub, Joseph Muglia, Kevin Lee, Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, Blair Maye, Michelle Branigan, Raed Kadri
Dan Seguin 00:42
Hey, everyone, welcome back. This is a very special episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. While we mostly want to say Bah, humbug, and forget 2020 ever happened. For me, there are some special moments and amazing guests that I had on the show this year, who are worth remembering. So for today's podcast, we're looking at the 12 days of podcast past with some of the most fascinating people I spoke to this year. You'll hear from industry experts about E-bikes, district and renewable energy, EV's and much more. So here's today's big question. What did you learn from the ThinkEnergy podcast this year? Number 12. kicking us off. Number 12 is Kevin Lee, Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Home Builders Association. And how net zero homes are the future with 111 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere from Canadian homes and buildings, every year, we're all looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint. I asked Kevin when building or renovating to net zero standards. With the key considerations are: how much does it entail? Are we talking about everything from walls, ventilation, foundation, windows and more?
Kevin Lee 02:24
Oh, absolutely. I mean, certainly, when you're driving to get down to basically using close to zero energy, you have to look at everything that uses energy and that can you know, save energy and be efficient with energy. So every element of the home, as you said, walls, ceilings, foundations, windows, mechanical systems, hugely important. So you have to look at all of it and and where do you start? Well, frankly, if you're a homebuyer, you start by looking for a builder with the experience and know how to do this and and even through our programs. And we follow, we use the inner guide rating system, which is a government of Canada system and label for measuring the energy performance of homes. And there are energy advisors that are certified by the Government of Canada to do that. And we provide those energy advisors, additional training, to work with our builders to be experts and getting all the way to net zero. So they're sort of recognized through our program through additional training and education. So really as a as a homebuyer or a homeowner, because we now have a retrofit program as well for renovating houses to get to this level. Really, it's finding the right finding the right contractor homebuilder, you know, you can look at ch va.ca. And you can find a list of our rent renovators and our home builders that are certified, they know what they're doing. And they're working very closely with an energy advisor who works on the design because like I said, when you're trying to get to net zero, you're talking about squeezing every ounce of energy you can out of that house on and it's every element. So it's not so much that you start one place you look at everything.
Dan Seguin 04:01
Number 11. Coming in at number 11 I spoke to Jeff Westeinde de president of Zibi Canada, to ask him what happens when you use a network of hot and cold water pipes, bury them underground, and then use them to efficiently heat and cool buildings, and even whole communities. Jeff and his team are using district energy to achieve a zero carbon footprint at Zibi in 34 acre waterfront community in downtown Ottawa. On a hot summer day. Back in August, I asked him what's behind the one planet system he's looking to achieve.
Jeff Westeinde 04:44
We have to live as if we only have one planet. Most people when I say that look at me and sort of go but we only do have one planet and we need to remind them that if you live like a typical Canadian, you're using four planets of resources to sustain your unsustainable lifestyle in America. And using five planets, Europeans using three planets, and all we're doing is stealing from future generations and the developing world to sustain our unsustainable lifestyles. So one planet really is all about both environmental sustainability, like technical sustainability and social sustainability with one planets worth of resources and and it's a very holistic, holistic program, very audacious goals, we're going to talk about zero carbon. So as you know, Zb is in the nation's capital in Ottawa and Gatineau. You know, we are we are today we're going to be at plus 34 degrees, six months from now we'll be at minus 34 degrees Celsius, and and to be zero Kerman. In this environment, it's the Holy Grail. So achieving one plant is not an easy thing to do very audacious. But that's, that's where we said, No, that's the bar we need to hit, we need to again, leave our campsite better than we came to.
Dan Seguin 06:02
Number 10. Francis Bradley, the President and CEO of the Canadian lectricity Association, sat down with me in October to talk about Canada's electric future, and why we're well positioned to bring our electricity grid into the 21st century. Here is a favorite snippet of mine, from Francis Bradley, at number 10.
Francis Bradley 06:29
You know, to begin with, where we're starting from is we're starting from a place that is the envy frankly, of a lot of other jurisdictions. compared to most other countries, our sector is already clean. So we're starting from a clean, relatively clean sector to begin with. It's one of the cleanest electricity sectors in the world, we have the advantage of remarkably low carbon electricity grid, and it's been getting cleaner. So from 2000 to 2017, there's been a reduction in our sectors carbon dioxide, emissions of 42%. So more than 80% of the electricity in in Canada now comes from non emitting sources. And so we continue to focus on decarbonisation, the, the targets that I'd mentioned earlier, are going to mean that that decarbonisation and further electrification are going to absolutely be required if we're going to, to meet our our climate challenges of the future. So, you know, among those challenges that the that are out there, a lot of people think that electrification is about the growth of electric vehicles, but it's going to be a lot more than that. mass transit, heavy duty trucking, I mean, those are going to be significant into the future. But also, you know, you know, we looked at a study by the electric power Research Institute, they noted that electrification in the US could increase their demand, anywhere from 24 to 52%. We've seen studies in Canada that suggests that demand for electricity may double or even triple if we move forward and and begin to reach our 2050 targets.
Dan Seguin 08:14
Number nine. Like Francis said, when we talk about electrification of transportation, we tend to think about electric vehicles. But there's another sub genre of electric transportation that is rapidly growing in popularity. ebikes in August, Seth Weintraub and award winning tech journalist and blogger told me why he thinks electric bikes are one of the biggest technology transformations happening right now.
Seth Weintraub 08:49
Absolutely. And, you know, I didn't allude to it earlier. But when you think about how much power you actually need to get, you know, the 510 mile commute that you do every day, compared to even a an electric car. It's a fractal. It's a small fraction. So for instance, for my an entire week of going, you know, I do a lot of my work at the coffee shop in town for an entire week, I can go off of one 500 watt hour battery. So, you know, in comparison that would drive my Tesla, probably about a mile or so. You know, I'm going, I don't know, 20 times as far as you can go on a car on the same amount of energy. So you know, if everybody wrote a bike instead of, I mean, even an electric car, and then you know, obviously, gasoline cars are much worse on the environment than that. But I mean, just even compared to an electric car, an electric bike is so much more fuel efficient. You know, obviously Many people could ride bikes for the for one person riding a car in terms of energies usage.
Dan Seguin 10:05
Number eight. In September, I interviewed Andrea Flowers, the Senior Project Manager for environmental programs, planning, infrastructure, and economic development for the City of Ottawa, and learned that roughly 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, come from municipalities. Andrea talked to me about an action plan called Energy Evolution to reduce emissions from the community by 100% by 2050. And from the city operations by 100% by 2040. At number eight, Here's an excerpt from that conversation,
Andrea Flowers 10:53
maybe a bit of background, so Ottawa undertakes greenhouse gas emissions inventories every year so that we know where our emissions come from. And in 2018, the most recent year that we have right now, roughly 90% of the emissions in Ottawa came from the building and transportation sectors, basically how we heat and cool our homes and how we get around the city. And if we look at those emissions, and the contributing sources of emissions, then natural gas is by far the largest contributor in the community, followed by gasoline and diesel. And, of course, given the scope and scale of the transportation system in our building sector, it's going to be really difficult to shift away from these emission sources. And then even beyond this, of course, there's risk that the public won't make or accept the types of changes required. And I'm cognizant of the fact that there's a huge Equity and Inclusion risk for this transition, we need to find ways that everybody can participate in climate solutions, and not just the people who can afford it.
Dan Seguin 12:00
Number seven - I sat down with Jim Pegg, Director of infrastructure, product and service at environment energy solutions, to understand what part utilities play in electric vehicle infrastructure and services to encourage a smooth transition for EV adoption. utility is absolutely a part of that. Because, you know, at the end of the day, people, myself included look to the utility for a reliable power supply. And as we're converting things like fleets, and even, especially transportation fleets, that reliable power supply becomes somewhat critical to the economy in the sense that moving people around, you know, transportation move people around, if the lights go out, you want to make sure you've got maybe a good redundant backup supply, or you have a system that's going to allow for switching the distribution system, and maybe even automated switching switching at some point. So utilities are doing lots of different things. You know, as they as they work to change that ever changing landscape, again, COVID is a great example of that, right? With a lot of people working from home, the utilities are, are working hard to, to make sure that they don't disrupt people that are working from home, regarding the large oil companies. And I think, I believe, I believe we'll see more and more of those organizations getting involved with with Evie charging infrastructure. You know, as you noted, gas stations are everywhere and well suited for fast charging. We see more innovation on how to best use those properties. I think the electrification of vehicles is going to drive many changes in that respect. Number six. At number six, on my year and wrap up, I sat down with Anne-Raphaelle Audouin, president and CEO of Waterpower Canada, and learned that Canada is the second largest generator of hydro electricity in the world. I wanted to find out what's next for Canada's water power industry.
Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin 14:15
When I when I talk to Canadians and also to policymakers. Sometimes they tell me Well, you know, yes, we've got a lot of hydro power in Canada, it's more than 60% of our generation. But surely, because it's so big, we must be tapped out. There must there must not be any more hydro to develop. And then it's it couldn't be further from the truth. We actually have a lot of water. In Canada, we've got good innovation, great sites still to develop. So our untapped potential is actually more than double our existing installed capacity. So we've got about 85,000 megawatt of current installed capacity. So you can you can only imagine what we could do if we were to just develop a portion of the untapped technical potential. And and the great news about that now I always emphasize that when I when I speak at conferences or when I when I, you know, have discussions with government and stakeholders in general is to say that that potential is not just a reality in one province. It's a reality across the country. So when we look at decarbonizing, electrifying, all of those great things that you know are happening are going to happen, you know, over the next few years.
Dan Seguin 15:31
Number five, you can't talk about electricity without talking about power outages. I sat down with Joseph Moglia, Director of system operations and grid automation at Hydro Ottawa, to talk about what happens behind the scenes when a storm approaches. And what happens before, during and after Mother Nature strikes. At number five, it's Joseph Moglia.
Joseph Muglia 16:01
So really, the very first priority is to send our crews out to assess the damage and figure out really what we're dealing with system wide citywide, get a good idea of really what what infrastructure has been affected. Once we've identified the extent of the damage and any safety concerns to the public or to our workers, we begin the restoration. What most people don't know is that there's an amazing amount of coordination and work that's going on and in our control room during an event just as much as what's going out in the field. So all of the cables and the infrastructure that you see on the ground and, and has been damaged or essentially, you know, dangerous situations that might be out there, they first have to be switched off from our control room so that we can work on the infrastructure safely. So we take the opportunity a few times a year, to really tabletop exercises that will prepare us will help us prepare for incidents or large outages that may that may occur, regardless of what what the the effect might be, whether it's a bad storm, or just a large power outage. And the case of a couple years ago, tornadoes, we prepare for that we're constantly trying to keep our folks up to speed and trained so that we we can seamlessly go from like a blue sky event where we think about what could potentially happen to being involved in the middle of a storm. And usually our staff can can transition from normal day to storm mode quite easily. We're monitoring weather 24 hours a day, every single day of the year. And so when when we see weather approaching, and then once a storm hits, and I'm using a storm as the as an example. Once the storm arrives, we've already been prepped, we've already got folks that are positioned and ready to respond.
Dan Seguin 18:09
Number four, where only 5% of electricity workforce is young people compared to 14% across all other sectors, and only 26% is women. I talk to Michelle Branigan, CEO of the electricity, Human Resources Canada to find out what is being done to encourage a more dynamic workforce for the future. At number four, here's a clip of my conversation with Michelle:
Michelle Branigan 18:39
women that are working here right now in the sector have have told us that having a support network, having somebody to mentor them, has made the difference on whether they have actually stayed or not. That's made a big difference. You know how hard it is to affect cultural change, right? It takes a long time, but who has to lead that change? The CEO, the leader, the president of the organization, needs to do that. And it's the premise of the Accord that to affect systemic change, you need to have buy in at that senior level, and industry leaders need to have a bold vision. But they need to do more than just talk about it. They need to set the standard for everybody in the organization to follow.
Dan Seguin 19:24
Number three. Have you ever smelled a pickle that is being electrocuted? That was the big question I had for Blair Maye, who helped me oversee the electricity safety and conservation program that entertains and educates school aged children across Ontario about electrical safety. At number three, here's a bit of my conversation with Blair and why it's important to teach kids young to be smarter and safer around electricity.
Blair Maye 19:58
A lot of electrical accidents. originate with adults, when they don't know what to do around electricity, you know, and it's sad. And that's why we do these presentations. So a couple of the takeaways that I've always remember that teachers and adults have come up to me and said that they really love to hear about. I know I talked a lot about the GFCI, ground fault circuit interrupter. But testing it once a month, is so important. And we want to make sure that from the JK all the way to the grade eight, they're going home and teaching their parents about this. And the teachers love to know that that is such an important thing that can save their lives. Also, the toaster, a lot of people still today will try to put a fork or a spoon inside the toaster. Yeah, and they think that they're, they think that they're ahead of the curve, because they know to unplug it. The one problem is if they damage one of the filaments, those thin, tiny little wires inside the next time they plug it in bang, they end up getting a shock.
Dan Seguin 20:53
Number two - if you've been listening to the podcast this year, you'll know I love to talk about the future, and innovation. That's why at number two, I asked, Have you ever dreamed of a day your car can drive itself? The accelerating rate of research and development in automation, and artificial intelligence is indicating that this dream may become a reality very soon. Raed Kadri, the head of the Ontario's autonomous vehicle Innovation Network shares fascinating insight into this world:
Raed Kadri 21:33
the number one thing that people are trying to achieve is the promise of, of increased safety as a result of these technologies, if you look at things like a das advanced Driver Assist system systems is is the fact that the vehicle and the sensors are helping, are perceiving something that you may not have perceived. And they're they're warning you and so it's able to help you mitigate, hopefully mitigate mitigate something in advance of it of it occurring. And safety is the key and what the at the high level what everybody's hoping to achieve from all of this, but, but once the technology is there, there's a whole wide range of things that can also be achieved as a secondary piece of this and this is where people looking at it is is is is increased efficiency as productivity is better flow, better understanding of the traffic system, better understanding of, of the of the users of the vehicles in such a way where, you know, of course keeping, you know, security and privacy paramount.
Dan Seguin 22:36
Number one, we've come to the last clip of my 12 days of podcasts year end wrap up. And it's fitting that it's about renewable energy, and the realistic strategies for increasing the supply to permanently replace any remaining carbon intensive energy sources in Canada. Here. Brandy Giannetta, Senior Director at the Canadian Renewable Energy Association talks about how the renewable energy industry is primed to enter a new phase of growth, mostly thanks to a culture shift. Here is number one,
Brandy Giannetta 23:19
The scalability of our energy production and using Canada and abroad is really a factor there because we can do it at whatever scale needed for whatever system, you know, is being sought. So a consciousness about the environment continues to grow alongside that. So we've got energy policy and economic stimulus, but we also have environmental policy, and the drivers for decarbonisation, and electrification of the sectors that aren't traditionally powered by electricity, like cars and transportation. But a large scale as well as buildings are really increasing the demand for energy solutions that are non emitting affordable, scalable, flexible, and all of those great things. And that's something that obviously our industries can provide. So our vision really, ultimately is to ensure that renewable energy being solar and wind and an energy storage on top of that are playing that central role as we transform the mix so that we can continue to provide those solutions across the board.
Dan Seguin 24:11
Well, we've reached the end of another episode and another year of the thick energy podcast. I hope you had fun tuning in. I really do. It's at this point in the program. I usually ask my guests some rapid fire questions. I never answered them myself. So I thought I'd do it now. I hope you enjoy this. What is your favorite word? Well, for me, I would have to say it's okie dokie. What is the one thing you can't live without? Actually, that's a tough one. It's a toss up between peanut butter and chocolate. What habit or hobby Have you picked up during shelter in place? I would have to say my wife and I purchased ebikes and we've taken up biking If you could have one superpower. What would it be? Well, for me, it would be immortality. If you could turn back time and talk to your 18 year old self, what would you tell them? Actually, that's a pretty cool one: Never forget that everything comes at a price. So work hard and stay humble and pay it forward. And for the last one, what do I currently find most interesting in my sector? Well, I think for me, it's the rise of voice technology, and artificial intelligence, and how it's going to change businesses. 2020 has certainly been interesting. Special thanks to all of my guests who took the time this year during a global pandemic, to come on the show and share their expertise, passion, and knowledge with me. For now, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! See you all in 2021 as we discuss even more thought provoking topics in the energy sector. Ciao everybody.