Continuing with the series of “wind energy stories” from around the world, in association with Global Wind Day, Chris Rose from Vancouver speaks with fellow Canadian Chris Forrest.
As a student in Ottawa, Chris Forrest admits he was a bit of a “class clown” interested in writing, music and other creative pursuits. Maths and science did not engage him at all. As a young man, Forrest drifted into newspaper journalism and later the murky but thrilling world of writing crime novels.
Now, at 41, he appreciates the effort, the stamina and the discipline required to reach and hold an audience. And well he should considering he is Vice-President of Communications and Public Affairs with the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).
“Communications is at the very core and heart of what we are doing,” said Forrest, who has been involved with the Canadian wind energy industry since 2008.
Forrest first saw wind turbines from his car window while driving through upper New York State.
“Before that, like most Canadians, I had only seen wind turbines on TV as representative of ‘the future.’ I remember being in awe at their strange beauty, how they seemed to be rooted in the agricultural landscape. The first time I actually stood beneath a wind turbine – on Wolfe Island in Ontario – I was hooked for good.”
Forrest enjoys as hobbies writing, playing sports and travelling to new places. But he is also passionate about developing the wind energy industry, which he has been involved in since 2008. “It feels like a calling. I believe wholeheartedly that wind energy is a very real solution . . . Every turbine we build is producing electricity that doesn’t create carbon.”
Although he is no longer working in journalism, Forrest faithfully reads newspapers and keeps up on current affairs. After all, working in the wind sector doesn’t mean being isolated from ongoing world events such as climate change and how to efficiently meet increasing amounts of electricity demand.
He realises that some aspects of the wind energy sector — such as carbon trading and upgraded electrical systems — are complex ideas that are difficult for the average Canadian to comprehend but he says the industry’s main message is simple: it has the proven ability to create a cost-effective amount of emissions-free energy that can compete with oil, coal and gas.
Forrest added that society is becoming more aware of other costs associated with fossil fuel usage like climate change along with other threats to the environment and human health.
That’s why communicating the positive wind power message is so important, he says. “I think we are at a time period when we as an industry need to be even more assertive in telling our stories. At the end of the day, it’s about talking to our fellow Canadians about wind energy’s contribution.”
An admirer of Global Wind Day festivities, he said June 15 provides a rallying point for the industry. A self-described optimist, Forrest also said he is impressed with “the personalities and bright lights” he has met in the industry, from Europe to Canada to the U.S.
“I think there is a passion and a heart beat in this industry that is going to carry us forward. We don’t give up easily.”
Learn more about CanWEA here.
Learn more about Chris Forrest here.