July 6, 2011
My placement for the summer is the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada working with CIGI Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment Dr. Jason Blackstock on the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030. The Equinox Summit was an international conference on energy utilizing an innovate model. Our primary goal was to establish implementable pathways towards achieving energy de-carbonization, energy equity and energy security by 2030. Run by the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI), it was a technology driven summit bringing together a global intergenerational group of experts and future leaders all working together to develop 2030 implementation pathways. At the core of this model were the Advisors, Quorum and Forum. The Advisors were made up of policy experts, entrepreneurs and finance experts. The Quorum members were all technical experts and scientists with a particular technology or system of technologies they envisioned bringing about transformational change to the global energy system by 2030. The Forum members are a group of young leaders, aged 20-30, from a diverse array of backgrounds and training.
After the Forum was briefed in a two-day training workshop, these groups came together for three days of intensive analysis and deliberation. They started by examining energy technologies such as geothermal and Organic PV as individual building block systems, considering their transformational potential, identifying the challenges and laying out pathways to implementation. By the third working day they were snapping these individual building blocks together into large systems of energy, which were further clustered into four theme areas. These were de-carbonizing baseload generation, smart urbanization, electrified transport and rural electrification. Eventually these would be broken up into six Priority Actions: Renewables (Wind and Solar) enabled by Large-Scale Storage; Geothermal Baseload, 4th Generation Nuclear Systems for Baseload (which can close the nuclear fuel cycle and include the alternative Thorium based fuel systems); Smart Urbanization (combining participatory models with Smart Grids and ICT); Electrified Transport; and Rural Electrification. On Thursday, a number of policy makers (predominantly from Canada) came for private briefings of each of these, and finally the Equinox Communiqué was presented to the public. Already the delegates of the Summit are mobilizing together to bring the Equinox pathways forward to a diverse array of policy arenas starting with the creation of individual and group action plans. We will be holding a meeting in the next week to bring the entire Forum together again and begin hammering out the details of next steps.
My role in all of this was as a member of the Forum support team, working on the behind the scenes logistics. This included writing blogs on the Quorum 2030 Visions, creating the Summit materials for the Forum and helping them to revise them over time, attending the Forum working sessions and bringing them an expert from the Advisors or the Quorum whenever it was needed, helping to ensure the smooth functioning of the Summit as a whole, and working on the outputs of the whole process. In the midst of all this I really got to know some amazing people and created a new network in my energy endeavors I know upon which I’ll come to rely. More than anything else this was one of the greatest learning opportunities in my life.
It seems surreal thinking about it now, but I’ve now spent 6 weeks here in Waterloo. In just two more I fly back to California. The thing that strikes me the most, besides the people I’ll miss and the enormity of the experience, is just how much work there’s left to do on what was started here. Although my internship soon ends, for me Equinox has only just begun. I don’t yet know what it is, but I can promise that there is much I’ll do. I’ve begun to consider what my involvement can be from afar, and how I might apply what I’ve built up here back at Cal, in fact it’s going to be one of my main priorities going into my final year. It’s all contingent on what happens in the immediate future, and although I’m confident it will all bear fruit there’s no way of knowing yet what these developments will entail.