Windsor

'Synergy' at Windsor energy conference looks to fund renewable projects

Experts in engineering, law, political science and finance listened to topics ranging from energy solutions to natural gas and financing for renewable energy. Organizers say about 50 people attended the first day, some as far away as Prince Edward Island.

The two-day conference at the University of Windsor highlights wind and solar power

Wind power was part of the first day discussion at the Energy and Natural Resources conference, Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the University of Windsor.

For the first time the Energy and Natural Resources conference invited members of the fossil fuel industry to take part in their discussion at the University of Windsor.

Experts in engineering, law, political science and finance listened to topics ranging from energy solutions to natural gas and financing for renewable energy. 

Organizers say about 50 people attended the first day with some coming from as far away as Prince Edward Island. One lawyer said conferences like this give an broader understanding of how energy projects are developed.

"It's important for me because I've been a long-time proponent of renewal energy," said Mark Michael MacKew, a Chatham-based lawyer. "Many of my clients are hosting wind turbines or solar farms."

Mark Michael MacKew said there was remarkable synergy at the Energy and Natural Resources conference, Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the University of Windsor. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Rupp Carriveau, professor at the University of Windsor in the Environmental Energy Institute, said they made an effort include people from the fossil fuel industry.

"If you really want to be responsible about talking about future power scenarios that make sense for the province, you have to include the big players, which are fossils," said Carriveau.

The goal is to look to the future of the grid and increase it's flexibility to get more modern resources on it. But Carriveau said fossil fuels will be a big part of it for the foreseeable future. 

He said it's important to have people who deal with all areas of energy come together.

"You can have the most wonderful technical solution, but if you don't have the people there to finance it, and if you don't have the lawyers to sign the deal off, it's not going to happen," Cariveau explained.

One of those projects that may benefit from this conference is the Year 21 Project, which is looking at the wind power industry as it passes its supposed 20-year life span. Carriveau is looking to move wind farmers into the next generation of wind technology.

"Giving them an investment-decision support system that takes into account the physical condition of the turbine, the social license they may have, the regulatory conditions, so you need all those stakeholders involved," he said.

The second day of the conference will focus on solar energy.

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