Your Energy Story is a collaborative project spearheaded by Senator Elaine McCoy. She came up with the original concept while preparing a briefing note on the nature of Canada’s energy systems as a background paper for the Senate’s energy study. No single source of information captured the whole story. To make matters worse, various pieces of data were presented with a bewildering array of units of measurement, scales, and points of view. When a fellow Albertan said to her “It’s impossible for me to make an intelligent contribution to the energy debates comparing nuclear power to oilsands to energy efficiency because I don’t have a consistent and comprehensive information base to work from”, the idea for Your Energy Story began to take shape.
Canadians are currently engaged in a series of conversations that are exploring ways to balance our energy future with our ecological future. When it comes to our energy future, all too often the dialogue separates the discussion into two distinct compartments. On one end is resource extraction for various types of fuel; on the other, is energy end use and consumption. We rarely contextualize the significant connections between the two and how end use either in Canada or abroad ultimately drives the type and extent of resource extraction.
This site is therefore designed to make linkages between energy end uses and energy sources. It also uses one common energy unit – the gigajoule – rather than barrels, cubic metres or kilowatt hours, in order to facilitate comparisons. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions associated with each end use have been provided where possible. The site is powered by CanESS, a product and service supplied by whatIf? Technologies.
Telling Your Energy Story remains a work in progress. We are three years in the making but imagine many years to come as we further build our data resources and systems to give Canadians tools they can use to make intelligent contributions to our energy debates.
Elaine McCoy, QC
Senator McCoy is a lawyer and former Alberta cabinet minister with forty years professional experience in regulation and policy development in both the private and public sectors. After pursuing a career in law as senior legal counsel for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board and as counsel for TransAlta Utilities, she held various cabinet portfolios in the Alberta government. She then headed a think tank at the University of Calgary which focused on environmental, energy, and other policy issues. She was appointed to the Senate in 2005 and sits as an Independent Progressive Conservative. (www.albertasenator.ca)
whatIf? Technologies was founded in 1989 by Robert Hoffman and Bert McInnis after working together for 15 years at Statistics Canada. While there, they developed the Socio-Economic Resource Framework (SERF), Canada's first long-term dynamic simulation model of its physical economy. SERF effectively combined the activity analysis concepts of Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief and the system dynamics concepts of MIT's Jay Forrester, from which the 'design approach' to modeling emerged. SERF was used to explore issues such as Canada's industrial strategy, the demographic transition resulting from the post-war baby boom, and implications arising from the OPEC oil cartel.
Now led by software architect Michael Hoffman, whatif? Technologies is recognized as a leader in creating computer-based simulation models for strategic planning and scenario analysis. The Canadian Energy Systems Simulator (CanESS), an integrated, multi-fuel, multi-sector, provincially-disaggregated energy systems model, is a signature product. Clients include the National Energy Board, Natural Resources Canada, Alberta Energy and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's national science agency. (http://www.whatiftechnologies.com)
We are grateful to the SEEDS Foundation for letting us use their animations to illustrate how several upstream production processes work in the energy industry.
The SEEDS Foundation's mission is to develop and provide environmental sustainability and energy education resources to support Canadian educators as they promote student literacy and encourage their students to take personal action and societal responsibility for energy, sustainability, and the environment. (www.seedsfoundation.ca)