On April 12, 2023, University of Toronto’s Government Relations Office (GRO) hosted a discussion among municipal, provincial, and federal decision-makers focused on the university’s research, commercialization, talent, and policy expertise in the fields of electrification, green energy, and electric vehicles (EV). The discussion was presented as a session in the New Frontiers for Policymakers series, in partnership with the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.

Following welcome remarks by Peter Loewen, Director of Munk School, and Forrest Parlee, Executive Director of GRO, Climate Positive Energy Academic Director and Canada Research Chair, Professor David Sinton, delivered exclusive insights into a proposed Grid Modernization Centre to be developed at U of T. 

Climate Positive Energy is the hub for multidisciplinary clean energy research at U of T, bringing together researchers from across programs and campuses to help advance energy solutions. The proposed $23M Grid Modernization Centre at U of T will help address a market capacity gap related to technology testing and real time simulation of various grid models, allowing Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop, test and validate green technologies before they are integrated into the electricity grid. The centre will also allow utility companies to plan for the increase in electrification, and will support the development of the future Net Zero City at Downsview Airport Lands as part of the Northcrest development site, where it will be hosted.  

“There is no doubt that the grid needs to be greener, and bigger,” said Sinton, commenting on the need for the Centre. “U of T has all the pieces to help address this challenge: we have policy makers, engineers, and technical experts; we have social, political, and economic experts, and together, they’re driving impact.”  

The proposed Centre is currently awaiting funding decisions at the federal level. 

Following the introduction to the Grid Modernization Centre, Professor and Canada Research Chair Olivier Trescases offered remarks on U of T’s Electric Vehicle Research Centre (UTEV) and EV innovation opportunities. Professor Trecases highlighted the ground-breaking research that UTEV is doing on EV charging vehicles and infrastrucutre as well as severe weather testing which is key for EV deployment in Canada. Professor Trescases works with multiple industry partners to advance EV innovation in Canada.   

Following remarks from U of T speakers, the audience engaged in a Q&A session and indicated the important role that the U of T plays as a hub to multi-disciplinary research: U of T has unique capabilities that are difficult to find in any other organization in Canada. This positions the university to harness the power of research to guide the energy transition in Canada. The talent for the decarbonized economy is another key important area that the U of T plays a role in shaping. This is achieved through industry internships and co-ops, and curriculum design and development, to meet the changing needs of the job markets. 

Research initiatives such as UTEV and CPE provide industry-equipped graduates, and CPE is pleased to offer year-round funding awards, workshops, and other training opportunities to U of T students looking to help advance clean energy solutions. 

We extend our gratitude to the organizers and attendees for helping to facilitate this importing discussion, and look forward to exploring more ways to support a greener economy.