WSDG Partners with IREA in Renewable Energy Training and Promotion


The International Renewable Energy Academy (IREA) and the Waterloo Sustainable Development Group (WSDG) have agreed to explore cooperation and partner in promoting and facilitating renewable energy training opportunities around the world.

The agreement, reached during the IREA 2017 inaugural week that took place in Toronto and Oxford County, Ontario, paves the way for exploring cooperation in providing top notch renewable energy training in wind energy, solar energy and energy storage internationally.

The International Renewable Energy Academy (IREA) is a new and independent experiential learning academy that was created at Toronto’s York University “to advance the adoption of 100% renewable energy solutions that are good for the Earth and local communities.” The academy is part of Global 100% RE, the first global platform advocating 100% renewable energy, and is a member of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University Renewable Cities global program, among other regional and international entities and groups.

AlFarra and Etcheverry

Commenting on the inaugural event and the agreement, IREA Director Jose Etcheverry said that the Academy’s goal is to “become the best destination in the world for those interested in growing the renewable energy sector to its full potential, and we look forward to collaborating with our new partner, WSDG, in this regard”.

For his part, WSDG CEO Tarek AlFarra said: “When we look at the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the world has committed to in New York in 2015, more specifically Goal 7; Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 3; Good Health and Well-being, Goal 6; Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 11; Sustainable Cities and Communities, or the other goals in general, it becomes apparent that renewable energy development and promotion is of paramount importance to attaining these goals, hence WSDG’s focus on renewable energy as a primary component of global sustainability. Our new involvement with IREA also comes within the framework of WSDG’s appreciation of Goal 17, that of the ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, which we have been achieving great strides in through the many domestic and international partnerships that we have created since our founding at the end of 2016, partnerships that we will be utilizing with IREA to advance the global goals”.

AlFarra and Leng

During the inaugural week, AlFarra also discussed cooperation opportunities with Natural Resources Canada‘s Director of RETScreen International Gregory J. Leng to internationally promote RETScreen, the user-friendly and highly advanced clean energy management software that Leng has been developing with the Government of Canada since the late 1990’s.

“We look forward to exploring with WSDG opportunities for cooperation in RETScreen and renewable energy training overseas”. Leng said.

For the inaugural event, IREA members traveled from more than fourteen countries in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, Central America, Asia, and Southeast Asia, and North America. The week-long event included extensive case-study-based RETScreen Expert training for IREA members provided by Michael Ross from natural Resources Canada and Leng himself.

It also included talks, panel discussions and presentations by some of the world’s most notable renewable energy practitioners such as solar and wind energy pioneers and authors Steven Strong and Paul Gipe, tours of world-renowned energy manufacturing facilities across Ontario such as Silfab Solar and the Siemens Blade Manufacturing Facility in Tillsonberg, and visits to successful renewable energy community installations such as the 18MW Oxford County Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm, and meetings with leading politicians and renewable energy advocates such as Donna Cansfield and former OSEA Director Nicole Risse.

The IREA members also toured and met with the leaders of Oxford County, the first county in Ontario to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

There they toured a number of solar and wind renewable energy installations and listened to in-depth presentations from the County’s Warden David Mayberry, Manager of Strategic Initiatives Jay Heaman, Executive Director at Oxford Community Energy Cooperative Miranda Fuller, and City of Woodstock Mayor Trevor Birtch on the history and progress of Oxford County’s ambitious zero waste and renewable energy goals.

AlFarra and Mayor Birtch

On the sidelines of the IREA visit to the Oxford County building, AlFarra discussed with Mayor Birtch opportunities for cooperation, within an IREA framework, in sharing the county’s experiential learning and best practices in renewable energy transitions through WSDG’s growing international network.

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