Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon

Research Fellow, Global Research Initiative, University of Calgary

Climate change, innovation, energy, energy transition, electricity, electricity markets, electricity policy, clean tech, intersection of technology, business and policy


Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Complex Energy and Climate Problem with Sara Hastings-Simon

In an increasingly complex world, many of the big challenges facing society today require interdisciplinary solutions, with the energy and climate challenge as a key example. But interdisciplinarity is much more than addressing each of the separate elements in silos. The motivation must come from answering questions about systems, not simply from the perspective of one or even all the individual silos and connections across distant fields are most challenging but also often where the most progress can be made. Drawing on her experience as a policy think-tank, as a business consultant, and as a scientific researcher, Sara will speak to how principles and insights from each of these dimensions can be combined to solve the energy and climate challenges we are facing today.

Sara Hastings-Simon explains why Alberta's renewable energy target matters for the private sector

Opinion: Low renewable energy prices shouldn't have been shocking

Ontario's Economic Investment Outlook Dims With New Government Energy Actions

Economist, Pembina Institute lend support to reversing energy system overhaul

Can the oil and gas sector enable geothermal technologies? Socio-technical opportunities and complementarity failures in Alberta, Canada

by Aletta Leitch, Brendan Haley, Sara Hastings-Simon

Published by Energy Policy

February 1, 2019

Regions that produce and export fossil fuels experience strong carbon lock-in. Yet, successful fossil fuel sectors also equip a region with skills and resources that could promote the development of certain low-carbon technologies. This paper considers potential complementarities between the oil and gas sector and low-carbon geothermal energy technologies in Alberta, Canada. We find that resources from oil and gas could enable the development of geothermal technologies because of similarities in areas such as actor skills, policy institutions, political networks, sub-surface information, and physical infrastructure. We also present an improved conceptual framework to study socio-technical complementarities based on the technological innovation systems (TIS) approach. Our framework allows for a more active search for unexploited opportunities to develop a new technology within a given regional or sectoral context and highlights the possibility for system complementarity failures.

URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421518307018


Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon is a Research Fellow, Global Research Initiative at University of Calgary, where her research is focused on low carbon energy transitions at the intersection of policy and technology. She sits on the board of Emissions Reduction Alberta. Previously, she founded Business Renewables Centre Canada; a modern marketplace where corporations and institutions can learn how to buy renewable energy directly from developers and led the clean economy program at the Pembina Institute. Prior to joining the Pembina Institute, she spent a decade as management consultant with McKinsey and Company, where she was a manager of the clean tech practice.

Hastings-Simon has a Bachelors of Arts in Physics from Pomona College, a Masters of Arts in Physics from the University of California Santa Barbara, and a PhD in Physics from the University of Geneva.


  • climate change
  • innovation
  • energy
  • energy transition
  • electricity
  • electricity markets
  • electricity policy
  • clean tech
  • intersection of technology
  • business and policy