Exploring Energy Systems

What is our energy system? What does that mean and what does it encompass? How will the energy transition evolve and why will it do so? 

Answering these kinds of questions is no small task. By their very nature, there are many facets to consider and many uncertainties in our answers. This is further complicated by the complexity of the technologies, services, and management involved in operating our energy system.

A panel of experts would be required to begin to unpick and decode all the relevant questions and quandaries. The Energy Systems Signature Area is proud to introduce a new seminar series designed to do just that.

Exploring Energy Systems is a webinar series designed to introduce different aspects of energy systems through a holistic lens and featuring diverse experts representing a broad crosssection of the energy systems landscape.

Each session will break an issue or topic down to digestible pieces, examining a basic question or component critical to understanding our energy systems, both in their current form and how they might or should develop in the future.


Session 1: Introduction to energy systems: What is an "energy system", anyway?

16 November 2021, 16:00 -17:30 MT

Why do we need to talk about systems? In this session, we will discuss the basics of how to understand and analyze a system, what, specifically, an energy system is, and why energy systems are important in society. Energy system components will be introduced, as well as jurisdictional commonalities and differences.


Andrew Leach | Associate Professor, Alberta School of Business
Jessica Vandenberghe | Assistant Dean (Outreach) and Industrial Professor - Indigenous Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Pierre Mertiny | Professor and Associate Dean (Student Conduct), Faculty of Engineering
Evan Davies | Professor, Water Resources Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Moderated by Amina Hussein | Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering

Session 2: Energy Systems Pathways: How Does Energy Get To You?

27 January 2022, 15:00 -16:30 MT

No matter the source of the energy– fossil fuels or renewables – all forms of energy must find their way to you. From extraction or generation through processing and transport, energy follows complex pathways, and once it comes into reach, your access is governed by markets and policies. In this session, four experts will take you along this pathway to explain how each step influences our society's relationship with energy, and show how understanding the entire pathway is essential to our energy transition.


David Brown | Associate Professor, Department of Economics, and Canada Research Chair in Energy Economics and Policy
Orain Brown | Postdoctoral Fellow, Departments of Chemical and Materials Engineering and Chemistry
Tim Weis | Industrial Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Executive Director, Electricity, Centre for Applied Business Research in Energy and the Environment (CABREE)
Vanessa White | Director, Renewable and Alternative Energy, Clean Resources Division at Alberta Innovates
Moderated by Juliana Leung | Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Mining and Petroleum Engineering

Session 3: Energy Systems and the Environment: Leaks, Losses, and Lessons Learned

17 February 2022, 15:00 -16:30 MT

No matter the type, all forms of energy have environmental impacts. This session will examine the environmental impacts that conventional energy systems continue to have, as well as the cumulative impacts of developing and deploying renewable energy systems. We will also discuss tools we can use to compare the total impacts of different systems across their life cycle, and techniques and methods for mitigating and remediating environmental damage.


Dr. Scott Chang | Professor (Forest Soils and Nutrient Dynamics), Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta 
Dr. Amalesh Dhar | Research Associate, Department of Renewable Resource, University of Alberta
Dr. Sylvia Sleep | Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary
Dr. Dani Degenhardt | Research Scientist, Ecosystem Health Science Program, Natural Resources Canada and Adjunct Professor, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta
Moderated by Dr. Daniel S. Alessi | Associate Professor and Encana Chair in Water Resources, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

Session 4: Ethics and Politics of Energy Systems

08 March 2022, 15:00 -16:30 MT

Climate change and energy systems wrap around the world, but the economies and political realities that influence energy policy are constrained by our borders. In this session, we look at the practical realities surrounding energy policy, and explore the reasons why different countries and regions are at different stages of the energy transition –– and why some appear to be traveling in completely different directions. We also consider the experience of Indigenous communities in these decisions.


Dr. Melanee Thomas | Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary 
Dr. Laurel Wheeler | Assistant Professor, Department of Economics Dept, University of Alberta
Dr. Martin Olszynski | Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary
Stephanie McCabe | Deputy City Manager, Urban Planning and Economy, City of Edmonton
Moderater TBA | Check back soon.

Session 5: Where You Fit in the Evolving Energy System

14 April 2022, 15:30 -17:00 MT

Energy systems are so vast that changing them might seem impossible. What role can each of us play in helping our entire society shift from older sources to sustainable ones? In this session, we will examine the importance of energy literacy, and discuss the tools each of us can use to better manage our own energy and emissions footprint. We will also touch on the role of social media, the importance –– and danger –– of misinformation, and the influence of a person’s local experience on their energy perspective.

Register Here