Chris Varcoe: Renewable energy gains traction in Alberta, amid strong backing for oil and gas
A new national poll shows support for oil and gas remains solid in the province, while a majority of Albertans also back wind and solar developments. The survey by the Angus Reid Institute indicates 54 per cent of Canadians believe investing in alternative energy sources such as hydrogen, solar and wind should be a priority for addressing Canada’s energy supply. In Alberta, that figure sits at one-third. Investing instead in oil, natural gas and coal production is the priority for 21 per cent of Albertans, compared with 12 per cent nationally.
However, nearly half of Albertans — 46 per cent — believe both areas should be given equal priority, compared with 34 per cent nationally.
“This data shows us there is a mindset that is tilting, maybe not to the same degree or quite as far as the rest of the country, toward green, but it is happening in Alberta as well,” said institute president Shachi Kurl. Source: Edmonton Journal
Electricity Prices for Alberta
The Alberta power pool price averaged 12.41 cents per kWh in July 2021. This price is 1.98 cents lower than last month’s average. The pool price has averaged 7.877 cents per kWh over the last 12 months.
As of July 30, 2021, the forward market was predicting electricity prices for the calendar years of 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025. These prices are 8.900, 7.300, 6.100, 5.300 and 5.200 cents per kWh respectively.
Gas Prices for Alberta
Direct Energy’s gas rate for July 2021 was $3.028 per GJ in Alberta. The August 2021 rate has been set at $3.328 per GJ. Alberta gas prices have averaged $2.998 per GJ over the last 12 months.
As of August 4, 2021, the forward market was predicting gas prices for the calendar years of 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026. These prices are 3.98, 3.32, 2.75, 2.62, 2.65, and 2.67 cents per GJ respectively.
How to outfit buildings to better handle hotter temperatures
On June 28, BC Hydro announced electricity demand in the province reached 8,516 megawatts. This shattered records by more than 600 megawatts, which equates to turning on 600,000 portable air conditioners. However, portable AC units are the least energy efficient models on the market, BC Hydro notes, typically using 10 times more energy than a central AC system or heat pump. Heat pumps are up to 50 per cent more energy efficient compared to a typical window AC unit, according to BC Hydro. Radiant cooling uses special panels with chilled water to cool down walls and ceilings.
As a bigger picture option, experts say developers should reconsider the size and design of our buildings. While sky-high views are popular, it would be wise to prioritize midrise buildings, says UBC-based urban design expert Patrick Condon. When it comes to our buildings, experts also suggest having smaller floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for more insulation on exterior walls. Source: CBC News
Northwestern Ontario network of electric vehicle charging stations complete
Electric vehicle owners no longer have to worry about where their next charge is coming from when travelling through northwestern Ontario. Ivy Charging Network — which is a partnership between Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation — officially completed the northwestern Ontario portion of its network on Thursday, when it opened a new charging station at Longbow Lake, near Kenora. “One of the main barriers to electric vehicle adoption is range anxiety,” said Theresa Dekker, co-president of Ivy Charging Network. “If people don’t feel like they can get a charge wherever they’re going, then it’s hard to make a decision to purchase an electric vehicle.” Source: CBC News
Electricity Prices for Ontario
The Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) was an average of 2.608 cents per kWh in July 2021. This price is 0.166 cents lower than last month’s 2.442 cents per kWh. The twelve month moving average was 1.72 cents per kWh up to July 2021.
The Actual Rate for the Global Adjustment rate Class B for June 2021 was set at 8.632 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment is an additional charge paid by non-regulated customers. (Source: IESO)
Cowessess unveils new solar project, aiming to become greenest First Nation in Canada
Chief Cadmus Delorme says he hopes the solar fields will inspire the Saskatchewan community’s children and youth. The solar arrays are part of the Community Building Solar Project, which has been years in the making and was mostly funded by the federal government. It’s also a step toward the Cowessess’s goal of becoming the greenest First Nation in Canada.
More than 800 panels were installed on five community buildings: the school, seniors centre, mall, water treatment plant and band office. The solar array systems have a combined capacity of 321 kilowatts — enough to power more than 60 homes — and will generate 390 megawatt-hours annually. Source: CBC News
Morden restricts water usage as southern Manitoba city declares extreme drought
Another Manitoba community grappling with low precipitation levels has declared an extreme drought and is asking local residents and businesses to significantly scale back on water usage. Morden declared an extreme drought, citing levels 2.7 metres below normal in Lake Minnewasta, which is where the southern Manitoba city gets its water from. The community and several others in the Interlake and western Manitoba have been experiencing drought conditions for months. The city is now aiming to reduce water usage by 30 per cent overall through a series of mitigation efforts. Residents and commercial businesses are subject to a voluntary water conservation request, but several other sectors are now under mandatory restrictions. Industrial businesses aren’t permitted to use water for non-essential purposes and must keep to 80 per cent of past water consumption levels. Source: CBC News
New Brunswick can’t meet 2030 deadline for coal phaseout, minister says
New Brunswick’s energy minister is defending a proposal to keep burning coal in the province past a federal deadline, saying it’s the only way the province can meet greenhouse gas targets without having to build an expensive new power plant. The province officially submitted draft regulations to Ottawa recently as the next step in negotiating a potential deal to continue burning coal at NB Power’s Belledune generating station until 2040. The proposal would see the province use Belledune only during winter months. The province says that would allow the plant to emit the same total, cumulative volume of greenhouse gases through 2040 as it would operating full-time until 2030. New Brunswick emitted 12 megatonnes of greenhouse gases in 2019, which was 38 percent below 2005 levels, exceeding reductions called for in the Paris climate agreement. But the province’s official reduction target in its climate change law is to reach 10.7 megatonnes by 2030. That’s 47 per cent below 2005 levels, which would surpass the new federal target. Source: CBC News
Prince Edward Island
P.E.I. energy minister ‘disappointed’ Maritime Electric limiting solar power
P.E.I.’s privately-owned electrical utility has introduced a new limit on how much electricity it will allow customers to make, while the province continues to provide incentives for residents to generate their own renewable energy. Maritime Electric has introduced a cap of 30 kilowatts of generating capacity for new and existing customers through its net metering program. The previous limit, which is written into the province’s Renewable Energy Act, had been 100 kW. Net metering allows customers to generate their own electricity using solar panels, wind turbines or other means, and feed that into the grid in exchange for credits they can use when they draw electricity. P.E.I. Energy Minister Steven Myers said he’s “disappointed and quite frustrated” Maritime Electric made the change without first consulting with government. P.E.I. introduced a solar electric rebate program in 2019, offering to pay 40 per cent of the costs, up to $10,000, when residents install solar photovoltaic panels at their home or business. The province has also pledged to reduce its carbon emissions from fossil fuels as much as possible by the year 2030. Source: CBC News
Lac-Megantic microgrid a showcase for new Hydro-Quebec technologies
Lac-Megantic, Que. has become a showcase for the latest Hydro-Quebec clean-energy technology thanks to a large microgrid project. The municipal council wanted to put the legacy of fossil fuels behind it and in 2018 approached Hydro-Quebec with the idea of creating a clean-energy microgrid. The utility has devised a system that consists of solar panels, a containerized energy storage system, transformers and converters, grid-control technology and smart monitoring systems. As Hydro-Quebec microgrid project engineer Julien Choisnard explained, the utility will now fine-tune the engineering in preparation for installing similar microgrids in some of the 22 remote Quebec communities identified for transition from diesel. Source: ConstructConnect
Newfoundland and Labrador
$5.2B deal reached between feds, N.L. government to stave off skyrocketing power bills
The federal and provincial governments have struck a $5.2-billion deal to stave off the starkest financial consequences of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Newfoundland and Labrador, an agreement that includes keeping electricity bills on the island from spiking in a few months. Without such a deal, once Muskrat Falls is commissioned in the fall and power begins to fully flow to the grid, electricity ratepayers in Newfoundland and Labrador would be on the hook to pay for it. That would cause power rates to balloon for customers on the island, from 13 cents per kilowatt-hour to just under 23 cents. Under the new deal, rates will still rise to 14.7 cents, about a 10 per cent increase. Government officials anticipate further rate increases of about 2.25 per cent a year. Source: CBC News
Nova Scotia announces next step in plan to boost renewable energy production
The province will be issuing a request for proposals to find ways to supply another 10 per cent of the province’s electricity from renewable energy, including wind and solar. Speaking at the Verschuren Centre in Sydney on Saturday, Premier Iain Rankin said requests for proposals would be issued for projects to generate 350 megawatts from renewable sources. If achieved, the energy generated would reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than one million tonnes a year, according to a new release from the province. The premier wants 80 per cent of the province’s energy generation to come from renewable sources by 2030. Source: CBC News
Agnico Eagle looks to tap wind power at Hope Bay mine site
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. has forged a new business partnership that aims to bring wind power to its Hope Bay mining project in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region. Agnico Eagle announced that it has signed an agreement with a new consortium, made up of Quebec-based Tugliq Energy Co. and Hiqiniq Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the Kitikmeot Corp. Under the companies’ new memorandum of understanding, Tugliq and Hiqiniq plan to build and operate a wind turbine project at the mine site, selling power to Agnico Eagle for its Hope Bay operations. The renewable energy initiative is part of Agnico Eagle’s climate-action strategy towards reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the company said. Source: Nunatsiaq News
Rapid permafrost thaw expected in N.W.T., Yukon after heat wave, experts warn
Both territories are at the extremities of a “heat dome” — a mass of hot air settling over the Pacific Northwest. It’s brought record-breaking temperatures across the region, setting new Canada-wide records in Lytton, B.C. several days in a row. The N.W.T.’s season started very wet, with a really fast snow melt, with most of the water ending up in the landscape. When that happens, there is more ground thaw — and even more permafrost thaw. Fabrice Calmels, research chair of permafrost and geoscience at Yukon University, said these temperatures could speed up the thaw of the first active layer of soil. That layer could then detach itself from a thicker, permanent layer underneath and slide into nearby rivers. With these kinds of temperatures comes an elevated risk of wildfires, Calmels continued. If that happens, it will burn away some of the vegetation that anchors the ground for permafrost, causing even more thaw. In order to respond to these challenges, it’s possible some might have to change the way they interact with the land. Source: CBC News
Yukon permafrost thaw reaching ‘critical point’ in some areas, says researcher
Slumps and landslides are becoming more common in Yukon as permafrost thaws and soil becomes more unstable, says Carleton University researcher Chris Burn, who’s been studying permafrost in Yukon for more than 40 years. This summer, Yukon University launched a new Permafrost Institute for research, touted as the first of its kind in Canada. A new mobile research unit planned to study permafrost along the territory’s highways and in remote communities this year. That includes work with Yukon Highways and Public Works and Transport Canada to develop risk assessments for the Alaska and Dempster highways. The goal is to develop alarm systems to warn road users about hazards. But according to Burn, such hazards may eventually become too big or too numerous to fix. Burn thinks it’s too late to turn things around. He says there’s already too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so it’s impossible to “go back to some wonderful land that was there 200 years ago.” The best to hope for now, he says, is to control emissions enough to stabilize things. “Then there’s a possibility that we can reach some kind of balanced environment which isn’t changing further which we can sort of begin to manage,” he said. Source: CBC News