October 23-25, 2023, Calgary, Alberta, BMO Center

Connect, Collaborate and Capitalize at Electricity Transformation Canada: Interview with CanREA’s Robert Hornung: Part 1

Robert Hornung interview

We interviewed Robert Hornung, President and CEO of CanREA, to learn more about this landmark event. 

Canada’s renewable energy stakeholders want to confidently participate and invest in the transformation of Canada’s electricity sector, but it’s hard to plan for the future with so much uncertainty and risk. We spoke with Robert Hornung, President and CEO of the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA), about the collaboration and learning opportunities attendees can expect at this year’s conference.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about CanREA, its mission and mandate? 

CanREA was formed on July 1, 2020, as an amalgamation of Canada’s national wind and solar energy industry associations. We work to promote the responsible and sustainable deployment of wind energy, solar energy and energy storage at all scales of application. As the national association for these three industries in Canada, we represent more than 300 corporate members, including manufacturers, component suppliers, project developers, owners, operators and a broad range of service providers to these industries. 

Q: How is CanREA different from other energy sector associations?

Wind, solar and energy-storage technologies have tremendous synergy. There is a broad consensus and understanding that they must be a core contributor to meeting Canada’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Working together, these technologies provide more comprehensive solutions for customers. CanREA captures these synergies and brings these industries together to provide them with a stronger voice. 

Q: Why is it important to capture the synergies between these technologies?

The climate-change threat is significant; we need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Analysis and studies show that two key things need to happen in any scenario to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050:

  1. We need to decarbonize the electricity grid, and non-emitting sources like wind and solar energy are the lowest-cost options; and
  2. We need to expand electricity production and use it to reduce emissions in other sectors and industries and energy storage is one of several tools that allow us to maximize the penetration of wind and solar energy into the system. 

When we say expansion, we mean doubling electricity production in the next 30 years. CanREA is working for the regulatory, policy and market changes required to enable this transition to occur. While there have been some positive steps forward, change is not occurring at anywhere near the size or speed required for us to meet net-zero.

Canada’s electricity sector is well positioned to meet the challenge. Eighty percent of our electricity is already decarbonized and we can be a global leader with our massive, untapped renewable-energy resources; there are opportunities to capitalize on wind and solar energy in every province.

While Canada now has a legislated commitment to net-zero GHG emissions, it will not be achieved without significant collaboration and coordination among governments across the country. It is critical that governments rally around this commitment and work together to find the most efficient way to get there. 

From an electricity perspective, the first step we need to take is to make a commitment to decarbonize the grid. The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its assessment of how the world could move to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 and indicated that countries like Canada would need to decarbonize the grid by 2035, and at the same time expand production of this clean electricity to reduce emissions from other sectors. 

This will require governments to design and implement comprehensive strategies to promote the use of electricity in transportation, buildings and heavy industry. Some initial steps have been taken, but we need a more comprehensive approach. The path to net-zero will require intensive collaboration and communication between electricity producers and users, and we need to advocate together for the creation of such strategies. 

We have an electricity system designed for past technologies. Our current challenge is that electricity, similar to many other sectors, is now dealing with a number of disruptive technologies that are poised to fundamentally transform the sector.  Electricity used to be about large generation stations and transmission lines that send the power long distances to a user. Now, we have a much broader range of technologies to produce electricity and manage its use. The future electricity grid will be a two-way system that will be much more diverse, distributed and decentralized, providing many more options for grid management to increase efficiency and reduce costs. 

Our transition to this new grid is less of a technology challenge and more of a challenge to reform regulatory, policy and market frameworks to enable deployment of these technologies in the marketplace. We have significant potential for change, but we need to remove existing barriers to capitalize on it. 

Q: What is Electricity Transformation Canada?

ETC is Canada’s largest renewable energy conference and exhibition, jointly produced by CanREA and Hannover Fairs. This year’s event is the first one, and the first opportunity for CanREA to hold an in-person event since the formation of the Canadian Renewable Energy Association in 2020. At this conference, we’ll bring together the voices of stakeholders in different sectors to talk about their perspectives on the path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and identify the common ground on pathways to get there. 

We are excited to bring together representatives of wind, solar and energy-storage technologies to explore opportunities and synergies, and to collaborate with key stakeholders, government regulators and policymakers, as well as renewable energy users, to enable a transformation of Canada’s electricity sector.  

The need for collaboration is not new, but it’s been challenging to implement because electricity is largely a provincial responsibility. Canada has ten electricity grids, not one. When each system is looking to optimize its own grid, we can overlook opportunities to collaborate and work together. Grid optimization on a national scale is sub-optimal when we are working on it by optimizing each grid independently. 

Read Part 2 where you’ll learn what makes Electricity Transformation Canada different, and why now is the time to expand wind energy, solar energy and energy storage. 

Join us November 17-19, 2021

Electricity Transformation Canada, an exciting new national conference and exhibition, will be at the centre of Canada’s transformation to a more affordable, flexible, reliable and sustainable energy system.

Launching November 17-19, 2021, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Electricity Transformation Canada is the premier national industry event for businesses, experts and other influencers in wind, solar and other related renewable energy technologies.

For more information

Why attend? Electricity Transformation Canada? If you’re on the fence, read this.

Why exhibit? It’s the perfect place to build your brand, establish relationships, grow your business and showcase products and services

Need more info? Download our prospectus or reach out to our team. We’d be glad to hear from you!