Clean Energy Canada calls for a massive increase in renewables, and fast

A new report from Clean Energy Canada calls on the federal government to rapidly accelerate the production of clean electricity to prepare for and build a climate-safe world.

The report called Under everything describes four reasons why Canada should invest significantly in a clean electricity grid. They must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for a changing economy, promote indigenous ownership of clean energy projects and improve the affordability and security of energy.

In the introduction to the report, Clean Energy Canada CEO Merran Smith says that the Liberals’ campaign promise of a clean electricity standard, which would require all electricity produced to be net zero by 2035, is a good step, but not enough. This is because to fully decarbonize, fossil fuels must be completely phased out, requiring an electrification of everything that currently requires fossil fuels.

“Electrification, which is connecting our vehicles, heating systems and industry to a clean electrical grid, will require Canada to produce approximately twice as much electricity without emissions as it does today in just under three decades,” Smith wrote.

Smith says Ottawa should take a leadership role because Canada’s Constitution leaves electricity production to the provinces, resulting in fractured power grids as provinces independently evolved with different regulatory models, power sources and strategies. .

“While this model has worked to date given our low consumption rates and high energy reliability, collaborative action and a cohesive vision will necessarily underpin not just a 100% clean network by 2035, but a network that enables net zero for 2050 “. she wrote.

A clean energy network will be essential to reduce emissions as highly polluting sectors such as transportation are electrified. This can already be seen in practice, where an electric vehicle that is charged off-grid in one part of the country has different greenhouse gas emissions than if it is charged elsewhere.

Due to the large amount of hydroelectric power, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Yukon, and Newfoundland and Labrador have much less carbon intensive power grids Than Alberta, Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia, which still burn significant amounts of coal to generate electricity.

Greenhouse gas emissions by vehicle type in Alberta, through the Energy Regulator of Canada.
Greenhouse gas emissions by vehicle type in British Columbia, through the Energy Regulator of Canada.

The report notes that as of 2020, 82 percent of the electricity generated in Canada comes from renewable energy, offering a huge advantage in reaching a decarbonised grid in the next few years. Canada is also ranked second out of 42 countries for its potential to meet the demand for electricity through wind and solar energy.

Canada already has a relatively clean #PowerGrid, but meeting climate targets will still require an impressive increase in renewables. Better start, says a new report from @cleanenergycan. #cdnpoli

Between 2017 and 2020, indigenous medium-to-large-scale renewable energy projects experienced a growth rate of 30 percent, according to the report. Highlights a two-dozen First Nations majority-owned energy company called Wataynikaneyap Power, which is building a 1,800-kilometer transmission line to connect communities to Ontario’s power grid, as an example of indigenous-owned power projects that offer energy security and economic opportunity.

The report suggests that investing in cleaner energy generation provides the opportunity for indigenous people to take ownership of energy systems.

Canada is independent of electricity, with the ability to meet your energy needs no matter. Still, the report says provinces that rely heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation are left exposed to fluctuations in global prices. That exposure drives up energy costs. The challenge for provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, which have significant potential for wind and solar power, will be to invest in energy storage to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that would be used when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.

Increasing clean electricity production is also an economic advantage for Canada, the report argues. Canada already exports $ 2.6 billion worth of electricity to the United States, and as the United States decarbonizes, it will hunger for more. The report notes that companies like Apple, Microsoft, and FedEx are in the market for low-carbon products to meet their own climate targets and suggests that if Canada can decarbonize its network, it can decarbonize manufacturing, competitively positioning the country for a clean economy.

Launched over the summer, Canada Grid, a nonprofit organization, advocates for closer collaboration between provinces and states to manage power grids through the transition to net zero. The strategy he defends is to bet heavily on transmission capacity to move gigantic amounts of electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. Canada Grid’s initial focus is on the East Coast, where Atlantic Prime Ministers and New England Governors already meet regularly to discuss energy.

In Canada, the “Atlantic loop“It is an initiative of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s energy policy. The basic premise of the circuit is to build transmission capacity in the Maritimes so that hydroelectric power from Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador can be used to offset coal-fired power plants in the Maritimes and reach growth markets in New England.

According to a meeting note National Observer of Canada received through a federal access to information request, over the past 15 years, annual capital spending on electricity generation, transmission, and distribution has “remained in the range of $ 20 to $ 25 billion / year.” .

That same note, prepared for Natural Resource Canada officials, recognizes the importance of increasing clean energy generation and notes A study which says that to meet decarbonization targets, around 206 gigawatts of primarily wind capacity must be added to the grid by 2050. That means adding roughly 8,000 megawatts of electricity each year, representing “a 6-fold increase from 2008 to 2017 “.

To put that in context, when construction completes on British Columbia’s Site C, it will generate 1,100 megawatts.

Despite the urgency to decarbonize, Canada has increased its reliance on fossil fuels for energy over the past 20 years, undermining climate goals.

John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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