Deep Decarbonization

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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″][mk_dropcaps style=”simple-style”]Y[/mk_dropcaps]OUR PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION to deep decarbonisation begins with your smartphone, which by 2050 shouldn’t contribute even a gram of CO2 to the atmosphere. That’s because like all household gadgets and appliances 35 years from now, it runs on clean energy, says Chris Bataille, the IDDRI assistant researcher and Simon Fraser University professor who co-authored Canada’s DDPP chapter. “Life looks a lot like today,” he says, adding that the differences are what’s outside the windows, under the hoods and in the news. “You’ll probably be hearing what the cost of electricity is on any given day.” That is to say almost every energy-consuming tool save for freight trains and airplanes will be electrified.

“Most high points will have more windmills,” says Bataille. “When you look at your house, it’s probably going to have solar panels all over the roof, if not in the walls. When you get into your vehicle, it’s an electric car. Most of the time it’s flowing off the grid. The air is going to be cleaner, the cars quieter. It’s all quite doable.” Doable, that is, if there’s global investment in new technologies or disruptive innovations or wind turbines, solar photovoltaic cells and electric cars — and Canada moves quickly on decarbonizing its electricity supply systems.

“In Canada that’s quite simple,” says Oskar Sigvaldason, a member and former chair of the Energy Council of Canada. “The electricity supply system is already quite decarbonized.” According to the Government of Canada, 79 per cent of our current electricity sources emit no greenhouse gasses, led by hydropower. However, electricity only makes up a quarter to a fifth of total energy consumption, and some of that electricity is still produced using coal — the biggest polluter of all.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”” image_width=”600″ image_height=”400″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”20″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Sigvaldason is project manager on the Trottier Energy Futures Project, a research initiative of the Trottier Family Foundation, with joint sponsorship by the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the David Suzuki Foundation. It has run comprehensive models on mitigating climate change for the lowest possible cost, with more than one million decision variables, and has concluded that Canada can decarbonize its generation system within the century. A key message of the full report, which will be released soon, is that radical changes will bring economic growth, including a tripling of the electricity sector.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]The imagination may conjure Canadians producing futuristic technologies (such as Tesla’s Powerwall solar storage battery, which hit the market in late 2015), but one of the greatest potentials of electrifi cation lies in one of our oldest energy sources — hydropower. Canada is the world’s third largest producer, behind China and Brazil, nations whose populations make our country look like a hamlet. And according to Jacob Irving, CEO and president of the Canadian Hydropower Association, Canada could still double its capacity.

Concentrated largely in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada’s installed capacity of hydropower is 76,000 megawatts. According to the association, however, there’s potential for more than double that, especially in coal-dependent provinces such as Alberta, where the current installed capacity is only 900 MW — less than a tenth of the potential. If by 2050 half of these unbuilt sites are up and running, and personal vehicles are fully electrified, then hydropower alone can energize Canada’s car fleet, plus 25 per cent of the U.S. fleet, says Irving, adding that electric cars “offer their ultimate potential when they run on clean renewable electricity.”

Feeding all those clean renewables into one grid poses a major technological challenge. Bataille says it requires rebuilding the electricity transition network so that it’s “designed to move electrons from wherever they’re created to wherever they’re needed.” (This is likely to be a primary undertaking of the recently formed Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity partnership.) He sees cross-provincial energy networks, where, for example, Alberta homes rely on solar power in the day and then draw from a hydroelectric grid in British Columbia at night. But where does this leave the world’s third largest oil reserves?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_button dimension=”three” size=”large” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#fff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#13bdd2″ text_color=”light” icon=”moon-next” url=”/deep-decarbonization/3/” target=”_self” align=”right” fullwidth=”false” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″ animation=”scale-up”]
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