Chad Walker, Ph.D.

Research - Teaching - Impact

Grad student opportunities

Join me in the CLEAN Lab!

I am now recruiting potential Master of Planning Studies (MPS) and Master of Environmental Studies (MES) students interested in conducting research related to a variety of topics related to climate action, low-carbon transitions, smart grid development, Truth and Reconciliation, and environmental justice. These include projects such as:

1) How might wind energy planning impact political support and longevity? Lessons to shape Nova Scotia’s wind energy future

The province of Nova Scotia is beginning to take bold steps to lower emissions from fossil fuel-based energy and build itself up as a global leader in hydrogen production. Part of this action involves increasing wind energy development in both onshore and offshore contexts. Yet both the academic literature and ‘real world’ experiences show us that planning for and building wind turbines in ways that do not respect local communities can lead to opposition movements and a political unwillingness to support much-needed policy programs. While acknowledging the suggestions from a few case studies from Ontario, Ireland, and the UK, there is no known summary of research that outlines the importance of planning processes to the sustainability of wind energy policy over the medium and long-term. 
 Students who join this project will conduct a desktop literature review and/or case studies centered around questions including, what is the importance of wind energy planning frameworks and processes to political support and longer-term sustainability?

2) Understanding how to plan and develop Smart Grid projects in ways that lead to high levels of local engagement, equity, and support 

To address related issues of climate change, energy security, and fuel poverty, the rollout of smart, local energy systems – and Smart Grid (SG) projects in particular – is beginning to happen across the world, including countries such as Canada. Though largely because these projects are their early or demonstration phases, we lack an understanding of how they are being planned and developed – including what local partners may be involved, and how procedural and distributive justice elements are being valued (or not). Making sure we understand and assess these dynamics is vitally important as we plan for the larger roll-out of SG projects across Canada and the world.  
 The student(s) joining this project will have the opportunity to conduct a case study of one or more of Natural Resources Canada-funded Smart Grid Program projects. Possible data collection techniques could include in-depth interviews, focus groups, workshops, and/or local resident surveys. Ultimately, the student will help answer questions around how we might plan and develop Smart Grid projects in ways that lead to high levels of local engagement, equity, and project support.

Competitive funding is available for both of these projects as well as any other proposed by the student that falls under the expertise of Dr. Walker. Contact [email protected] to discuss further. 

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