Professors Mark Winfield and José Etcheverry, energy policy experts in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), are currently leading the development of the FES Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI).
In May 2009, Ontario’s legislature passed the Green Energy Act to make Ontario a leader in conservation and renewable energy in North America. The Act aims to attract new investments in green technologies, create new jobs, and protect the environment. Now in force with complimentary policies and programs, the Act aspires to build a culture of energy conservation and efficiency in government, industry, schools, homes and other community groups.
The SEI is a response to this call for participation, and is set to fulfill three key needs in Ontario:
- applied and policy relevant research to advance sustainable energy solutions in the province;
- education and training of a new generation of sustainable energy practitioners needed to respond to the demand created by the Green Energy Act; and
- continuing education opportunities for professionals already working in the field.
This initiative will integrate effective policy, technological, and business solutions for energy sustainability.
FES is well positioned to undertake this initiative. As a major institution for teaching and research on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation in Ontario, the Faculty has built a team of full-time faculty members, adjunct professors and associated professionals with expertise in sustainable energy policy, law, planning, technology, impact assessment, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Internships and field placements have already been provided for students to obtain hands-on practical training in local distribution companies and Ontario ministries, as well as international organizations promoting the adoption of renewable energy worldwide. Similarly, FES graduates have found positions in their field of study on renewable energy at Ontario energy associations, boards, cooperatives, funding programs and training institutes.
FES has also initiated a “Studies in Ontario Electricity Policy” series. Three papers have been published to date:
Further, FES has developed and is expanding collaborative arrangements with leading institutions in Ontario, North America and Western Europe. These initiatives are informed by the SEI’s vision: the belief that a shift to an energy system based on renewable energy, conservation, efficiency and community power solutions is needed to effectively address climate change, pollution and ecosystem degradation, increase the quality of life of local communities, create new employment opportunities and foster productivity and innovation.
With many more activities and developments in progress, the SEI solidifies FES as the preeminent place in Ontario for research and education on renewable energy.