Alberta’s youth are leading the way on the clean energy evolution

Blog - Sept. 13, 2018 - By Vincent Morales

The 2017 Youth Energy Changemakers presenting at last year's Alberta Climate Summit. Photo: Pembina Institute 

Youth are growing up in a world in which the effects of climate change are becoming ever more prevalent, energy systems are shifting to low carbon and they are not waiting to take action. We’ve been hearing from youth across Alberta that are eager to lead the province to an effective clean energy evolution. Last year’s edition of the Alberta Climate Summit featured our inaugural Youth Energy Changemakers Pitch, a panel of emerging leaders with innovative ideas to tackle Albertan climate change issues. Youth, ages 18-25 from across the province applied, and a select few were chosen to pitch their low-carbon ideas to the sold-out crowd filled with climate and energy thought leaders. The projects covered a range of different fields from social science to engineering. We’re gearing up for this year’s summit, on Wednesday, Sept. 26th, where a new cohort of Changemakers will pitch their ideas. We thought this was a great time to take a look at where last year’s youth have taken their ideas.

One of the Energy Changemakers was Patrick Duke, a student at the University of Calgary who, when choosing his university major, realized that his previous education lacked awareness about the pressing issue of climate change. He thought university students could contribute to bring more environmental education into high school classrooms. After a successful pitch at the 2017 Alberta Climate Summit, Patrick created partnerships with interested members of the audience and created Students on Sustainability. They’ve had a busy and exciting year! In early 2018, they reached 1,500 kids through their 35 school presentations.

Farming generates a lot of by-products that are untapped energy resources. Victoria Ross grew up on a ranch and wanted to find solutions to help farmers make a better living out of their activity. Last summit she talked about how she founded aGRO Systems, a company creating solutions to help Albertan farmers to reduce waste and save money. In the last year, Victoria has worked on turning beef manure into electricity and fertilizer. She also worked with breweries and turned some of their by-products into nutritious animal feed.

Carbon Capture and Utilization is an emerging field in which Alberta is becoming a leader. Calista Yim, from the University of Calgary, developed a solution to contribute to greenhouse gas emission reduction by turning carbon into useful products. Through a connection made at the Alberta Climate Summit, Calista was offered organic plant materials for her experiments. Eight months later, she and her team developed chemical reactions, and these results were presented at several conferences. The project, called Alternative Vectors for Carbon Storage, won an award that enabled the team to grow in numbers. They are now looking at carbon utilization application in construction materials.

Involving youth to be part of the clean energy evolution in Alberta was a recurring theme of the 2017 panel. Disa Crow Chief, with her teammate Cory Beaver, wanted to empower Indigenous youth and bring awareness about the energy transition and food sovereignty. Last year on stage, they announced the creation of a conference that will gather Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada. This generated a lot of interest from the audience and you may hear more about it if you come to Calgary for this year’s Alberta Climate Summit.

Looking at how much change last years’ panellists have made in such a short time is getting us even more excited about the new cohort of youth Energy Changemakers. They will pitch their innovative made-in-Alberta clean energy projects to the crowd of the Alberta Climate Summit on Wednesday, September 26 in Calgary. Make sure you book your tickets — you don’t want to miss it.

The 2018 Youth Energy Changemakers Pitch is generously supported by RBC and sponsored by the University of Calgary’s Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking.

Tags:  Alberta.

Vincent Morales

Vincent Morales is an analyst with the Pembina Institute's clean economy team in Alberta, based in Calgary.


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