‘Monumental transformation brings monumental opportunity’: There’s an energy buzzing in Calgary’s energy sector

Energy Disruptors: UNITE 2022 brought together more than 100 speakers last week

By Mario Toneguzzi | September 26, 2022 |5:00 am

Many experts agree Calgary can be a leader in energy transformation.

Photo: Krista Sylvester

Some of the world’s greatest energy visionaries recently united in Calgary after a three-year hiatus with a focus on the pathways, financing, and scalable solutions of how to reach net-zero by 2050.

Energy Disruptors: UNITE 2022 brought together more than 100 speakers last week, including global thought leaders Erin Brockovich, Adam Grant, Dr. Vivienne Ming, and David Roberts. 

Energy Disruptors is a self-proclaimed “catalyst for bold, game-changing solutions to humanity’s BHPs (big hairy problems).”

“If we’re going to reduce global emissions and have meaningful progress on actually solving big energy and climate challenges, we have to break down these echo chambers,” says Graeme Edge, one of the event’s founders. 

He says the event brought together many diverse industry minds in the spirit of collaboration.

“We feel (many of these groups) are extremely siloed and if we’re going to actually make meaningful progress on reducing global emissions and solving big energy challenges, all of those stakeholders need to be collaborating together.”

Then Energy Disruptors was created 

Edge says energy transition, aside from being important for society, is also an incredible economic opportunity.

“We’re trying to reframe energy transition as an opportunity and really trying to get local stakeholders to approach it with perhaps a little bit of a different mindset, Edge says, adding this is especially important to Calgary.  

“We’ve got some amazing entrepreneurs and companies doing great things, both in the traditional energy space and also in this new landscape, and it’s a chance for us to showcase those entrepreneurs and those companies on a global stage.”

Sparking conversation around energy 

Lance Mortlock is managing partner of the energy and natural resources business in Canada for EY, which was a key sponsor of the recent event. 

Mortlock says the summit was focused on sparking conversations that explore the key ESG (environmental, social, governance) challenges that organizations face today, and how those businesses can build a more sustainable working world.

“We’re really excited to join forces with trailblazing entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and inspiring creators and futurists to redefine the future of energy and natural resources,” he says. 

“What’s unique about this conference is it brings together a whole bunch of people across all three of those sectors — mining, oil and gas, and power and utilities — to engage in dialogue, collaboration. That leads to breakthrough technologies, new business models, and policy.”

New technology and innovation 

Mortlock says the oil and gas industry has shown innovation over the years with new technology being adopted.

“We’re an industry in Canada that has innovated and I think we’ll do it again. We’ll see it with hydrogen, and there’s already companies that are exploring that in a meaningful way, decarbonizing the value chain” Mortlock says.

“We’ve innovated in the past and I’m convinced that we will innovate in the future.” 

Energy and natural resource industries face a common challenge: how to marry short-term commercial pressures with a need to re-shape their business for the future, Mortlock says. 

“Decarbonization, digitization, cost pressures, geo-political uncertainty, all of these things are forcing mining, oil and gas, power and utility companies to transform,” he says. 

“There’s disruption sweeping the energy and resources industry and that will bring challenges but also monumental opportunity for companies to get ahead of that change.”

Attracting and retaining talent 

Those ESG strategies will allow companies to remain attractive to talent and foreign investment and will build a cleaner future for the country, Mortlock says. 

“It’s important to note that sustainability is everybody’s business,” he says. 

“Investors, regulators, and stakeholders across society are increasingly demanding greater commitments to ESG and sustainability, furthering the transition to a decarbonized future to help create resilience and long-term value for stakeholders, the economy and frankly the planet as a whole.”

Mortlock believes Canada’s energy and natural resource industries each play a vital and integrated role in accelerating the energy transition here and around the world. 

“Monumental transformation brings monumental opportunity.”

Mario Toneguzzi

Mario Toneguzzi is a contributor with Calgary Citizen.

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