The outbreak of COVID-19 has triggered a global economic crisis that was unimaginable even two weeks ago, and perhaps nowhere is that being felt more acutely than in Alberta. In addition to the obvious consequences of social distancing on businesses and industry, we’re also dealing with a gut-wrenching collapse in oil prices that’s being driven in part by a deepening conflict between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Taken together, the combination of falling oil prices and a temporary collapse in the broader economy will put Alberta’s community and business leaders to the toughest test they’ve ever faced — one that they cannot afford to fail.
As governments and industry around the world work to jump-start their economies and restart their businesses without triggering a second wave of COVID-19 infections, they’re suddenly open to ambitious ideas and policies that were on a slow track before the virus struck. But in straining for the highest fruit on the tree, we need to be careful that we don’t miss one of the easiest pieces to pick: energy efficiency. It will deliver results — and deliver them quickly. Installation of commercially available high-efficient technology saves more money than it costs, reduces emissions, and supports the local economy, producing high-quality local jobs while keeping investment in the community. But for too long, we’ve overlooked this opportunity. The good news is that now is the perfect time for that to change.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a rapidly developing area of technological advancement over the last 10 years and more, yet it is only very recently that the buzz about its implications and potential for Alberta’s energy sector has really escalated. Why is that?