Photovoltaics and the Transition to a Carbon-Neutral Energy System in Canada

Research Group: James Meadowcroft, Danny Rosenbloom, Simon Langlois, Sarah Gibb

There are several opportunities for students to get involved in sustainable energy research at the School of Public Policy. Currently, a research team consisting of two current SPPA students and one graduate is involved in an NSERC funded photovoltaic research project, under the guidance of James Meadowcroft. This research project is part of a larger Photovoltaic Innovation Network (PVIN), which is a partnership between the research community, industry, government, funding agencies and advocacy groups. The aim of the network is to foster and accelerate the widespread adoption of photovoltaics (PV) as a renewable energy resource in Canada. The network, which consists of thirteen research groups from various Canadian universities, is collaborative and multidisciplinary. Twelve of the research groups are composed of chemists and engineers aiming to advance the efficiency and application of PV whereas the Carleton group is looking at PV policy and its regulatory framework.

Photovoltaics is a rapidly growing and evolving sector. The PVIN network aims to provide Canada with the skills and technology base to compete globally. Specifically, the research groups are working on increasing the conversion efficiency of PV and reducing their cost, thereby making photovoltaics more competitive with conventional fuels.

The Carleton research group is focusing on the political, policy and regulatory contexts for the development of PV in Canada. It considers the place PV may occupy in Canada’s energy future and the policy and regulatory regimes required to ensure an appropriate and timely development and deployment of PV. The project is designed to answer three basic research questions:

• What is the potential contribution of PV to Canada’s energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions needs?

• What can Canada learn from PV policy and regulatory frameworks in other countries?

• What needs to be done to establish an appropriate policy and regulatory framework for PV in Canada?

The multi-disciplinary approach of combining research done by students and professors in policy, chemistry and engineering is expected to have several positive outcomes. The intersection of chemists and engineers looking at novel PV technologies and applications should enhance the innovative process. The network also creates a healthy balanced dialogue on technical and policy issues and advancements amongst the various research groups. The Carleton research team’s focus on the political, policy and regulatory issues should have a positive influence on how research partners see these issues and their importance.

The project is scheduled to end in 2015.

Want to know more?

Read the recently released report PV Policy Frameworks: Lessons from Domestic and International Policy Engagement with Photovoltaics.

Learn more about…

The School of Public Policy and Administration’s Photovoltaics Project 

The NSERC Photovoltaic Innovation Network 

 Written by Sarah Gibb

Masters in Sustainable Energy Policy Graduate