Student Perspective by Zach Arseneault

My name is Zach Arseneault, I am a student at NBCC Saint John, where I am currently enrolled in the Business Administration: Marketing program, set to graduate in June. I originally enrolled into a marketing program as growing up I have always been fascinated by advertisements, trailers, commercials, etc., and wanted to make a career from those passions. I quickly learned that there is more to marketing than just filmography and creativity, however, I was still eager to learn everything I could about the field to master my craft.

Atlantica Centre for Energy was kind enough to provide me with that opportunity by allowing me to complete my 5-week practicum placement with their organization, and to learn what marketing is like in the workplace as opposed to a classroom environment.

During my first week with Atlantica, I was exposed to an entirely new world of information surrounding the energy sector. I was tasked with completing a competitive analysis for Atlantica to outline how partners and competitors conduct themselves online, as well as see if there were ways to raise engagement on the posts Atlantica makes themselves.

Not only did this teach me about marketing, but it also opened my eyes to the vast number of organizations, people and groups involved within the energy sector. Learning about these organizations and what they do within not only my local community but the energy sector within Atlantic Canada was very intriguing to me.

It was clear to me that I had a lot to learn about energy and the energy sector if I was going to be successful during my experience here. Much like most of the general population, coming into this experience I thought I knew all the information I needed to know about energy, including:

  • The general population uses oil, gas, and coal for transportation, heat, and electricity.
  • Carbon emissions are bad, however there is nothing we can do about it.
  • The world talks about green energy and reducing emissions but that’s decades away from ever being a possibility.

I was very wrong. Not only are there many more options for energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydro, etc. there are federal laws in place to have Canada reach net-zero by as soon as 2050! Net-zero means that any greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere is balanced out by the amount removed from it, which is the first important thing I learned during my experience at Atlantica.

Most people believe that to have net-zero we need to eliminate all non-renewable energy sources and replace them with renewable ones. However, I have learned that to continue having reliable energy, both need to work in tandem with one another. After completing my own 101 article for the Atlantica 101 series on biodiesel, I’ve learned that biodiesel is a perfect example for this situation.

Biodiesel is a renewable biofuel that is made from a blend of animal fats, vegetable oils, etc. and regular petroleum diesel. It is a perfect example of how non-renewable and renewable energy sources blend to create something positive for our net-zero goal.

Biodiesel’s properties help to lower the emissions created by the petroleum fuel, and the petroleum fuel helps keep the biodiesel performing well under the harsh circumstances such as freezing temperatures here in Atlantic Canada. This is just one example of how renewable energy does not replace the non-renewable counterparts but helps move the energy sector toward net-zero in an efficient and reliable way.

Perhaps the most interesting information I have learned during my experience with Atlantica is surrounding nuclear energy. Due to the way the word nuclear is portrayed in the media, I was always under the impression that anything surrounding the word nuclear was a bad thing. As it turns out, nuclear is not only safe but also clean.

Not only is it non-emitting, but I quickly learned that New Brunswick already has a nuclear generating station at Point Lepreau that produces roughly 40% of the province’s electricity. It quickly became an interesting topic that I look forward to following even after my time with Atlantica is finished.

Overall, my knowledge of the energy field has grown since beginning with Atlantica in April 2024, however, I still have a long way to go before I would feel confident with my knowledge level. I feel as though I have learned a lot, but I have only scratched the surface to the vast amount of information available to me regarding the energy sector, renewable energy, Canada’s goal to reach net-zero by 2050 or sooner, and how the energy transition will impact Atlantic Canada’s future.