Oct. 18, 2023
Electricity Camp in the Rockies bridges gap between academia and industry
Set against the stunning backdrop of the Canadian Rockies, the Electricity Camp in the Rockies is a pivotal space that fosters dialogue among academics, policy-makers and industry professionals to discuss today’s vital energy issues.
Electricity Camp in the Rockies is co-led by Dr. Blake Shaffer, PhD’18, an assistant professor in both the Department of Economics and the School of Public Policy (SPP), and Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon, PhD, an associate professor for the SPP as well as the Faculty of Science.
Together, Shaffer and Hastings-Simon co-lead Net-zero Electricity Research Initiative (NZERI), the driving force behind the creation and success of Electricity Camp. NZERI is a $1.5-million-funded research initiative with support from Alberta Innovates that looks at the questions and challenges around reaching net zero electricity in Alberta and across Canada.
“This is one of the most important issues in Canada today as we decarbonize our electricity system, so we’re trying to make sure that all of the research and all of the information is shared,” says Shaffer.
Electricity Camp was created for academics, policy-makers and industry practitioners in the electricity field with three main considerations. Shaffer recognized the lack of collaboration between these three groups; an absence of a Canadian electricity policy centre; and the need for an exciting and open forum for everyone to meet, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, when the first Electricity Camp took place.
Activities at Electricity Camp have been carefully planned to incorporate information sharing between these groups. A core element of camp is short research-talk sessions. This allows for academics to share their most recent research about key electricity issues in an accessible way for all participants. Additionally, Electricity Camp opens other, more intimate spaces for individuals to chat further about these topics, such as over lunch, dinner and hiking trips.
“When we think about traditional academic conferences, they're often organized around a specific discipline or topic,” says Hastings-Simon. “And so, by bringing together academics from different faculties here at the University of Calgary, as well as academics from around the world, we're able to kind of create a space in these small groups for them to meet and interact.
“And, layering onto that, companies that are working on these questions on the ground and policy-makers as well, too, there's a real chance for these groups to share information in a way that doesn't often happen.”
Electricity Camp has allowed for the creation of key connections between the various professional groups working in the transdisciplinary electricity field. Not only has it helped with the circulation of academic research, but it has also helped researchers understand the questions and challenges that people in the industry face today.