Calgary is famous for its oil and gas and, of course, its annual rodeo festival. Now it is dealing with a stampede for renewable energy meetings and events based on a growing appreciation of the deep local experience, innovation and knowhow.
Two big events in this sector stand testament to these strong running winds in Calgary’s conference sails: the recent 35th Annual CanWEA Conference and Exhibition (8-10 October, 2019) and next year’s IEEE Photovoltaics Specialist Conference (14-19 June, 2020).
Being the sunniest of Canada’s metropolitan cities has helped Calgary become the second city in Canada with the most photovoltaic potential and a perfect location for the IEEE Photovoltaics Specialist Conference, which takes place in June 2020.
The conference appeal is built on strong institutions, too. The University of Calgary has established The Centre for Advanced Solar Materials, dedicated to solving issues that are central to solar conversion and storage. The achievements there no doubt helped influence the IEEE in its decision to bring its 47th Photovoltaics Specialists Conference (PVSC) to the city in June 2020.
The IEEE PVSC is no parochial gathering, but a truly large international conference that draws experts in solar cells and solar energy from around the globe. In fact, over half the attendance is from outside North America.
Calgary more than meets the brief for hosting the event, with numerous direct flights to both Europe and Asia, as well as a strong commitment to renewable and green energy.
“The excellent TELUS convention centre facilities and nearby access to major hotel brands also made Calgary an easy choice for our conference,” said Seth Hubbard, Programme Chair of the organising committee. “The proximity to multiple tourist attractions nearby such as the Canadian Rockies and the Canadian Badlands will also allow our attendees time for fun and relaxation before and after the event.”
The recently held 35th Annual CanWEA Conference and Exhibition was also a good fit for Calgary, given that nearly a third (28.5%) of Canada’s total installed wind generation capacity is operated by Calgary-based companies.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), in partnership with Hannover Fairs Canada organised what became Canada’s largest wind energy conference, attracting over 1,200 attendees over three days to the BMO Centre Calgary.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2019, over $13 trillion of new investment in new electricity supply is expected globally between now and 2050 – 77% of which will go to renewables (wind energy to attract $5.3 trillion and solar energy $4.2 trillion, and another $843 billion going to batteries).
“Wind energy is a low-cost, clean, and reliable source of power that is well-positioned to drive Canada’s clean energy growth. The CanWEA Annual Conference & Exhibition provides an unparalleled opportunity for all members and stakeholders of the wind energy industry to focus on the opportunities and solutions that will ensure Canada remains competitive in a low-carbon global economy,” added Robert Hornung, President, Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Plenary sessions at CanWEA in October focused on the big picture of Canada’s evolving electricity system and growing wind energy industry. There was also plenty of advice and sessions on navigating the changing market and policy dynamics in Alberta; disruptive technologies and rapid innovation that are impacting Canada’s electric utilities; and the role of wind energy in supporting grid reliability.
Wind energy is the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in Canada and wind energy costs continue to fall, offering an attractive electricity source to provinces seeking to clean and diversify their electricity systems.
The rest of the world could do well to visit and share its knowledge, while learning and navigating the winds of conference change in Canada.