Alec Miller is TechAlliance’s Manager, Measured Innovation, and attended the MaRS Future of Energy Summit.
Great ventures are almost always based on a sound alignment of business idea/model, with the underlying macro and micro trends of that particular industry and the economy more generally. If one agrees with the environmental and economic need to decarbonize our energy supply over the coming decades, then the question for public and private organizations becomes – how do we align ourselves with these larger trends?
The MaRS Future of Energy Summit on June 8 was a good way to learn about how Ontario innovators and decision makers are aligning with these larger trends around energy supply and demand. It was clear that there is a huge array of companies and researchers that are building products, services and process improvements that are targeted towards addressing the issues of energy security, environmental concerns, and economic competitiveness. The gathering of over 200 cleantech engineers, researchers, start-ups, multi-nationals, government officials, policy makers, and investors was focused on Ontario’s future with respect to energy technologies and markets over the coming decades. Also in attendance were Brad Duguid and Chris Bentley – Ministers of Economic Development & Innovation and Energy, respectively.
The panel sessions covered five key areas:
- Using the power of data
- Designing the grid of the future
- Combining different energy sources and uses
- Emerging energy generation and storage technologies
- Supporting the commercialization of new energy technology
Announced at the conference was the new Clean Energy Institute (link), which will “bring together industry leaders and utility companies to build on Ontario’s smart grid technologies and clean energy innovation. Created in partnership with MaRS, the institute will help support and expand domestic and international business opportunities and position Ontario to capitalize on a $250 billion clean energy industry.”
Conferences like the Future of Energy Summit and initiatives like the Clean Energy Institute are definitely welcome developments given that recent reports have pointed out that the transition to a decarbonized energy supply is not happening fast enough. In an MIT Technology Review article, author Mike Orcutt wrote:
“A new report from the International Energy Agency concludes that nations have been far too slow to deploy renewable power and carbon capture technologies, and to make needed efficiency gains in buildings and vehicles. ‘Our ongoing failure to realize the full potential of clean energy technology is alarming,’ writes the IEA’s executive director Maria van der Hoeven, in the report’s foreword. ‘Too little is currently being spent on every element of the clean energy transformation pathway.'”
Despite the many challenges facing clean technology deployment (timing, scale, complexity, cost, etc.), it’s great to see that Ontario is making meaningful steps towards addressing some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.
- Expanding Ontario’s Cleantech Economy
- The Future of Energy Starts Now: MaRS Partners with Province to Create Ontario Clean Energy Institute
- MaRS Announces Launch of First Dedicated, Early-Stage Cleantech Venture Fund
- IEA Laments Failure to Deploy Clean Energy
- IEA Energy Technology Perspectives – Infographic