Our relationship with energy in Canada is undergoing a major transformation, as it is throughout the globe. And whether it’s about debating our cleanest and most efficient sources of power, or about how electricity consumption affects almost every aspect of our daily lives, energy is always a hot topic.
So when the opportunity arose to participate in a foreign journalists’ tour hosted by the Washington Foreign Press Center, called The Future of Energy in the Americas, I jumped at the chance. As the only Canadian in the group, I was joined by top-notch journalists from throughout the Western Hemisphere — from Mexico and Jamaica to Chile and Argentina.
In a tightly packed schedule of press briefings spread over a week-and-a-half and three American cities we covered every angle of the multi-faceted energy landscape. In Washington, D.C., we got the scoop on emerging developments in U.S. energy policy at the State Department and the Wilson Center, and we also heard about Lockheed Martin’s recent advancements in clean energy technologies.
In Pittsburgh, we turned our focus to a region historically built on coal, which is now experiencing a shale gas boom like nowhere else on Earth. Here, we heard from multiple sides as they debated the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the method used to access natural gas from deep within the Marcellus Shale — the massive formation that underlies much of Pennsylvania and southern New York State.
Finally, in Raleigh, our focus turned to the future of clean energy production. On the sun-drenched fields of North Carolina, solar panels are being built to replace the tobacco plantations that traditionally drove the state’s economy. Companies like Strata Solar, whose solar farm we visited, are teaming up with research facilities throughout the area — the so-called “Research Triangle” region of leading universities and hi-tech firms — to push the envelope of renewable energy development in the U.S.
Throughout the tour, our sneak peek into cutting-edge developments and advancements in energy technology were complemented by an in-depth look at the historical context that brought us to the present day. It was an enlightening trip to say the least, especially given the probing questions from participating journalists, who brought their own perspectives and knowledge to every session.
And each and every briefing on energy issues featured content that will surely interest Canadians, which is to say, stay tuned for upcoming stories about all of the above and more.
Los is editing a special publication on energy that will be published in June. His Twitter feed is @flosGreenPages.