The recent announcement of the $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in B.C. has generated praise from the business sector, the provincial and federal governments, and those who have expressed worry over the province’s investment climate. Concerns from the environmental sector have been heard as well.
Unfortunately, much of the technology in the first phase of LNG Canada’s project has already been secured, preventing extensive electrification of the plant. This project will consequently emit millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions at a time when we’re supposed to be moving in the opposite direction.
Some may say, so what? This is about helping the B.C. economy first and foremost. This is about following the path we have been following for a long while. This is just being smart. It’s all about the economy, stupid!
Environmental issues aren’t typically at the forefront of people’s minds. Most individuals care about a clean environment, but this thought lags behind the reality of what motivates them. This can be identified in the October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate report, which paints an increasingly bleak picture of our world, where greed overwhelms our environment to the point of irreversible destruction.
Global leaders recently discussed this vital subject in an emergency meeting based on the findings of the IPCC report. The muffled cry of climate change is proliferating into an unbearable howl that is forcing people to take notice, and it’s only getting louder.
Drawing the link between the environment and our economy has been a widespread challenge. This is due to the perception of long-term goals versus short-term rewards. Many of our leaders are rewarded for successes in the short term. However, climate change is a longer-term issue with vast ramifications for our economy; to put it bluntly, there can be no economy within a destroyed world.
The World Resource Institute recently published a simple graphic breakdown of the difference between a 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees Celsius of warming. The difference is huge. We have talked about climate issues for 30 years, yet we’re only beginning the journey to a low-carbon economy. The longer we delay action, the larger the cost and the lower the likelihood we will be able to manage the changes that are manifesting all around us.
The good news story
We at Clean Energy BC recently released our “Electrification of British Columbia” white paper, which paints a picture of what B.C. would look like if we were to extensively electrify the province. Should we meet our 2030 greenhouse gas target, we will have transformed B.C.’s communities, transportation systems and industries, thus positioning the province for competitiveness and prosperity in the global low-carbon economy.
In 2030, B.C. could be positioned for success in a decarbonizing global economy. Investors all over the world could associate the province’s brand with low-carbon products, services and expertise. But meeting B.C.’s climate targets will require both push and pull mechanisms. Organic growth alone will not be sufficient to meet climate targets; therefore, the need to push toward the behaviours outlined above will be necessary, along with pull mechanisms that make green changes desirable for the larger population.
B.C. must greatly expand electricity production to support the deep electrification required to meet the climate targets stated in the recent Climate Change Accountability Act. Our province can achieve this while growing the economy, keeping energy prices low, creating jobs and increasing resilience to climate impacts.
The vast majority of the world’s industrial economies are already moving toward a 100-percent renewable energy low-carbon economy. With California’s 100-percent renewable energy target by 2045 in mind, B.C. has vast amounts of untapped renewable energy. This represents one of the biggest development opportunities in history, and there’s never been a better time for low-cost, private-sector clean-energy power producers to ensure that the province delivers on its climate change commitments.
It’s never been cheaper
Over the past decade, the costs to produce electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, marine and run-of-river hydro have dropped significantly and, in fact, have never been more affordable. Also, with some $10 billion of investment funds currently available, the province’s independent private sector power producers are ideally positioned to deliver the infrastructure to provide this electricity, including that needed to electrify the natural gas sector and proposed LNG industry.
A recent wind-power auction in Alberta demonstrated that wind is now the nation’s most cost-effective source of new electricity. While many sources of renewable energy are variable-output, energy storage technologies are steadily improving, and BC Hydro and Power Authority’s existing large hydro storage plants can provide an effective backstop.
Value-added goods and commodities produced with very low-carbon electricity will be highly marketable in the growing low-carbon economy. Extensive electrification enables B.C. to meet our climate targets and would require boosting the province’s production of renewable energy by as much as 50 percent to meet the 2030 GHG targets and by as much as 100 percent to meet the 2050 targets. There’s never been a better time for low-cost, private-sector clean energy power producers to ensure that B.C. delivers on its climate change commitments.
Jae Mather is executive director of Clean Energy BC, which is holding its 16th annual conference, Generate 2018 – Transformation Through Electrification, November 26-28 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Vancouver
Original article was featured in BC Business on November 5th.
This year’s Generate 2018 includes a special treat: The Big Ideas Show.
The Big Ideas Show is an entertaining, inspiring, and fast-paced clean-energy “game show” where the audience picks the winner!
We’ll invite contestants to pitch conference attendees their most inspired ideas on how best to increase awareness, deployment, and performance of clean energy generation in British Columbia. The timer will be running!
We’ve enlisted clean-energy empresario James Glave to emcee The Big Ideas Show. He’s promised to rent that sequin jacket again!
So. How about it? Do you have a Big Idea you’d like to share at Generate 2018? Or do you know someone who does? Nominations are now open!
Download nomination PDF here.
When Premier John Horgan gave his ministers their mandate letters, essentially their “to-do lists,” it was clear that finding innovative ways to decrease GHGs was a priority for the NDP government.
And they’re working hard to make progress toward this vital goal. Developing a new Energy Roadmap. The Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council. Establishing strong GHG reduction targets. A commitment to the world’s cleanest LNG. More clean-tech university training. These actions make a real difference.
But, despite these initiatives, there is more we need to do to ensure B.C. doesn’t fall behind. On those ministerial lists was something that, counter intuitively, means we can use more energy and still help the environment. Through electrification — using electricity instead of other energy sources — we can keep our standard of living and create more jobs and revenue while reducing the impacts of climate change, both at home and abroad.
The great thing about electrification is it keeps the economy flowing strong and ensures we maintain our role as a climate and clean-energy powerhouse. We have a wealth of successful, cost-effective renewable power being produced in B.C. daily. In fact, did you know that 14 per cent of the electricity in B.C. comes from wind, small hydro and solar producers?
The government recognizes we need to do more to keep us in front of this critical environmental, economic and social opportunity. Luckily, we have a tool to do that: the B.C. Clean Energy Act gives us a chance to embrace our strength in renewable-energy production over time. We can add even more affordable B.C. clean electricity to the grid and help other industries, which rely on dirtier sources like petroleum, to green up. Mining is just one industry that has seen the benefits of sustainability through the electrification of their operations. Electrification also does something else that aligns well with this government’s goals: It helps foster the development of First Nation and rural communities through the use and development of renewable resources.
Our association has also proposed a new Electric Truck mandate — a chance to make significant gains and keep us in front is greening transportation and reducing its GHGs. By switching only five to 10 per cent of trucks to electricity by 2025 the NDP could send a strong signal about its seriousness in achieving our climate-action goals.
We applaud the vision of this NDP government and its work to fight climate change. And we look forward to a future when our members help drive us toward electrification and a competitive economy that delivers more value to families across B.C. These are things we are going to be talking about at our Global Electrification Now! Summit on June 14. It’s time to hit the pedal and make sure we aren’t left behind on electrification.
Jae Mather is executive director of Clean Energy B.C.
Climate change is disruptive. We can all agree on that. But there is a path forward where we can rise above the disruptions: electrification. It’s the best way to bridge the gap to meet our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.
The B.C. government has committed to a 40 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 (based upon 2007 levels) – something that benefits us all. This sets a clear goal for what success looks like for B.C. It’s an ambitious target but it demonstrates a government that understands that the opportunities for B.C.’s economy, resilience, innovation and employment are tremendous. Alternatively, failure to mitigate against climate change would cost our economy far more than any industry can generate.
By 2050 the world will have transitioned towards an 80 per cent carbon reduction. Electrification is the biggest tool in the toolbox, argues Jae Mather
B.C.’s brand is “supernatural” and associated with a clean, green environment. Our electricity is among the greenest in the world and at one of the lowest costs anywhere. This has blessed B.C. with one of the biggest tools available in the carbon reduction box. Using B.C. clean energy, with our abundance of existing hydro dams, run of river hydro, wind, solar and biomass (not to mention the immense potential for geothermal, batteries, and wave & tidal power) gives us a phenomenal competitive advantage by helping us create some of the lowest carbon products and services in the international marketplace. Dramatically cheaper renewable energy technologies are already competitive and this trend is only going to continue.
“The future is a foreign country and it’s our largest trading partner” – Vinay Gupta
Working in partnership with First Nations and local communities, the expansion of our electricity generation systems throughout the province builds resilience, reconciliation and local economic empowerment. We’re already producing the lowest carbon aluminum and every cup of coffee made in B.C. with our clean electricity is ultra-low carbon.
As B.C. designs our climate change strategy and the energy roadmap comes together, electrification will be a central part of it. Simply put, this means using much more electricity instead of other energy sources. It reduces our exposure to the risks associated with climate change, both environmental and economic. It continues the process of diversifying our economy and helps to insulate us from the volatility and disruption that is already becoming increasingly common. It enables us to capitalize on the vast resources that are being focused on climate solutions and it sends the signals to the investors, manufacturers, suppliers and the educators from the clean technology sector. And it creates the fertile environment that opens the door for investment on innovation to be applied in an environment where the clear goals are laid out for the future of a low carbon B.C.
But how do we take advantage of this pathway? In order to meet our GHG targets through electrification there is a need to significantly increase the amount of renewable energy being generated in B.C. by more than 5 GW of peak power. This is equivalent to adding more than 25 per cent of additional power generation to B.C. by 2030! In addition to BC Hydro heritage assets, BC already has over 120 small hydro, wind, solar, biogas and biomass projects that are providing clean, low-cost electricity to British Columbians in partnership with First Nations. These clean energy companies are at the forefront of the fight against climate change and have the expertise needed to lead the electrification transition.
And what about fossil fuels? Let’s use them for the highest and best applications. Suppliers can then shift the focus to exporting the lowest GHG fossil fuels to the rest of the world, an attractive product.
Electrification can reduce GHGs in one of our most important resource sectors: natural gas. B.C. is in an enviable position when it comes to natural gas and LNG. We have remarkable reserves, and because of our clean electricity grid, we have an almost unique capacity to electrify the processing of our natural gas, LNG and distribution. With full electrification, B.C. natural gas and LNG products would be amongst the lowest life cycle carbon emission fossil fuels in the world.
By 2050 the world will have transitioned towards an 80 per cent carbon reduction. Therefore in the medium term (20-40 years) carbon-constrained future, it is only the highest quality, lowest GHG fossil fuels that will still have a share of the market. For those that want to see the natural gas industry not only survive but to thrive, clean energy is the solution in this transformational time. It gives investors the confidence to keep their money in the sector and it gives B.C. the capability to add value and securing the jobs and economic benefits that are so vital. Natural gas and LNG’s future is inextricably linked to clean energy.
Electrification is the biggest tool in the toolbox when it comes to bridging that gap and meeting that need. Clean technology is the fastest growing sector in the world and it sits at the core of the electrification process.
In 2007 B.C.’s total carbon (equivalent) emissions were 64.66 million Tonnes (Mt).
Our 2030 target is 38.8 million Tonnes, which is a 40 per cent reduction. Currently our emissions are 61.6 million Tonnes – we need to find another 22.8 million Tonnes (37 per cent) of reduction over the next 12 years.
Total reduction = 22.97 Mt which equates to a 40 per cent reduction from 2007 levels.
We can do this by reducing GHGs by 39 per cent in transportation: electric vehicles, hybrids, plug in hybrids, bio-fuels, hydrogen internal combustion, fuel cells, renewable fuels etc.
We can improve our built environment, for another 17 per cent reduction: electrification of heating such as air source heat pumps reduce the emissions by 97 per cent over gas and a geoexchange system reduces emissions by 99 per cent.
And industry has a big role, where we can reduce emissions by 41 per cent. This is already starting to happen. Electrifying the natural gas industry reduces GHGs by over 90 per cent! And the Mining Association of BC is committed to taking advantage of our electricity resource by moving forward on delivering the lowest carbon minerals in the world.
So, remember, the path may be challenging but it is there for us to either follow, or for us to lead. Electrification is our way to a decarbonized future, which is why Clean Energy BC is hosting our first ever Global Electrification Now = Low Carbon Future Summit in Vancouver on June 14th, 2018. To take part in this transition visit Clean Energy BC for more information about the Summit.
Jae Mather is the Executive Director of Clean Energy BC