John Gorman is the President and CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) and the leading spokesperson for Canada’s solar energy industry. Next week, John and the CanSIA team will be in Calgary, Alberta to host Solar Canada 2018, Canada’s largest solar energy event. We sat down with John for a quick chat about the highlights of the conference, and Western Canada’s role in the country’s solar energy market.
For the first time, Solar Canada will be hosted in Western Canada. Why is that significant and what makes Calgary a great host for Canada’s national solar energy event?
Quite simply, western Canada is producing the “hottest” solar energy markets in the nation. For many years CanSIA has held an annual western regional conference “Solar West”, that was always very well-attended with a pervasive air that sudden and lasting growth was imminent. Well, now the question in western Canada (and especially Alberta) has moved from “when will that rapid growth begin?” to “how do we as an industry best serve this rapid growth?”.
Aside from regional considerations, there are also national dynamics that make Calgary a timely and important location for Solar Canada 2018. Canada’s energy sector is evolving more rapidly than ever before. As a nation, we are working hard to tap new markets for traditional energy resources while rapidly expanding renewable resource innovation and development. As Calgary is Canada’s “energy HQ”, the event is also of great importance as we advance the dialogue and progress on ensuring our renewable energy and cleantech development, oil and gas extraction, and energy infrastructure development all progress in step with our national obligations under the Paris Agreement.
What are the key issues and drivers affecting the Canadian solar industry that will be discussed at Solar Canada 2018?
The solar industry is currently at a pivotal time in Canada – boundless opportunity coupled with uncertainty as economics, politics and technology ebb and flow. As a national Association, we’re tracking multiple policies, regulations, procurements and markets day-to-day and the conference program will present attendees with a cross-section of these topics that present the greatest opportunities and challenges for industry advancement.
I’m particularly looking forward to hearing about: the Alberta Infrastructure 135,000 MWh per year solar procurement; how solar energy could fit into Nova Scotia’s Renewable Portfolio Standard post-2020 and into Saskatchewan’s 50% renewables by capacity target; how corporations and large corporations are chasing renewables targets; and how utilities are exploring virtual net-meting and micro-grids. The list goes on. There is comprehensive programming for those that are policy-driven and project-driven in all provinces and territories.
I’m also looking forward to engaging with members of the public at the “Going Solar Evening”. It’s the first time we will be hosting such an event, and I expect it will become an increasingly important feature for future years.
What do solar industry professionals need to be aware of to position themselves for future success? How about other attendees such as policy-makers, regulators and others exploring their role in the solar energy future?
Solar Canada 2018 brings a community of 2,000 professionals together. The program is tailored to policy-makers, regulators and professionals—so the potential to listen, share ideas and build partnerships is unrivalled. While the event spans multiple days, the time goes by very quick. My advice is to attend as many sessions, visit as many booths, and make as many new contacts as you can. At the end of each day, there are numerous networking events where attendees can relax, reflect and process the day’s activities. So first, you have to be there. Second, make it count. In dynamic times, good fortune and opportunity will accrue to those with a strategy based on the best understanding of the market and the best network from which to build teams and partnerships.
If you would like to meet John and be a part of the discussion around the future of solar energy in Canada, you can join him and other industry experts at Solar Canada 2018, June 20-21, in Calgary.