Conversation with Adarsh Mehta

Development Director/ACCIONA Wind Energy Canada

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Congratulations on being named chair of the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s board of directors. Could you tell us a little about your background?

Thank you, it’s quite an honor to be in a position to help support the development of wind energy throughout Canada. This type of professional service is a real passion for me, as it is for all of my colleagues on the board. We all have primary responsibilities to our employers, but we check our “company badges” at the door when we come together knowing that anything we do to strengthen the industry will also benefit our employers. ACCIONA recognizes the importance of involvement in CanWEA.

As for my own background, I credit my father with having the foresight to suggest entering the wind industry when I was in university in the nineties. I studied applied math and computer science as an undergraduate student and then focused on environmental fluid dynamics in graduate school, studying how wind flows over complex terrain. I worked for GPCo and later ORTECH Power, performing wind resource assessments and conducting technical due diligence before joining GDF Suez to lead business development in western Canada. It was around that time when I realized I wanted to play a more formative role in the wind industry, especially at this stage in its development, so I launched my own renewable energy consulting firm while working toward my executive MBA.

I had been involved with CanWEA for quite a few years by then, participating in various provincial caucuses and steering committees since 2005, then elected to the CanWEA board in 2008, named vice chair the following year, and then board chair at the end of 2010, which was the same year that I joined ACCIONA. My term runs for three years, although it is traditional for chairs to remain on the executive board for an additional year to aid with the transition to new board leadership, or to run for an additional term. So the past few years have been busy ones for me, and very meaningful as well.

What will you and your colleagues be focusing on in the coming years?

The role of any board member is to act on behalf of all CanWEA members in providing good governance, supporting the growth of the wind industry, and leveraging their industry experience to help guide strategic planning. We provide advice and feedback to the association’s senior executives, and we also participate in the steering committees for the federal and provincial caucuses that meet to discuss their wind-related concerns. We support CanWEA staff in reaching out to policy makers and politicians, and also to other industry organizations so that we can speak with a united voice. One of our top priorities involves helping build public support for wind energy in Canada.

We’ve recently mounted a campaign in which we’ve placed wind-related advertisements in about 68 local newspapers in Ontario focusing on individuals who are benefiting from their association with wind energy, such as a landowner who is generating additional income by hosting a wind farm. We want to share the stories of individuals in the community whose lives are positively affected by wind farm development. We targeted Ontario because there’s significant growth there at the moment, and with that comes a certain degree of concern from people who don’t really understand wind energy and are somewhat adverse to change. We want to correct any misinformation that is being propagated, and also to help people understand the many benefits to the surrounding community. Wind energy is the fastest-growing source of new electricity generation in the world, so our federal and provincial governments need to be realistic about the global competition to attract investments such as wind farms and manufacturing facilities. The only way to achieve that is to embrace the future and provide stable policies that will attract those types of investments.

CanWEA has taken steps to provide a guide for the future of the wind industry with a collaboratively developed position paper, “Wind Vision 2025,” which states our goal of producing 20 percent of Canada’s energy from wind by 2025. The full paper is available for download on the CanWEA web site. Through our marketing campaigns, discussions with key political figures, public and professional outreach, the development of position papers, and shows like the annual CanWEA Exhibition and Conference, we’re doing everything we can to help accelerate the growth of this important renewable resource both here in Canada and around the world.

To learn more: Go online to www.canwea.ca or www.acciona-na.com.