Friday, April 24, 2015

The Transition 

In order to begin making the transition over the next 10 years, we maintain the federal government needs to develop a renewable energy development strategy. During this period, public investments totalling $4.65 billion need to be made to simulate the development of renewable energy sources with a priority being put on public sector owned and operated wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal power. The plan could also include more restricted development of small scale hydro and selected biofuels from biomass sources.

Averaged out over a ten year period, this public investment would amount to an annual federal expenditure of $4.65 billion, which is less than 2 per cent of the annual federal budget. The Canadian government must also end subsidies to the oil and gas industry that heavily favour fossil fuel-based energy development at the expense of renewables. 

This 4.65 billion dollar investment will create 92,000 full-time jobs for a year (or person job years).

Real initiatives – Renewable Energy

Canada finds itself at a crossroads. For Canadians, the choice is between, on the one hand, continuing down the path of building our old model of economy and society or, on the other hand, charting a new path for building a green economy and society for the future. We can no longer afford an economic model that treats the planet and people as disposal goods. The key to unlock the door to either of these two pathways is energy – the energy we use to fuel our industries, heat our homes and transport ourselves. Ultimately, this new economy must be fuelled not by “dirty” non-renewable forms of energy that comes from fossil fuels but by “clean” renewable forms of energy that are affordable for all Canadians.

Can we take on this challenge? Of course we can!

A green economy is more than an idea. There are lots of examples of the rapid expansion of renewable energy all over the world. In fact, Canada was even among the top ten in the world in installed wind energy, and ranks in the top-ten by Ernst & Young in terms of attractiveness for renewable energy investments.  There is no question – we need more renewable energy so we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to ensure that the future needs of Canadians are met while ensuring both jobs for today and a clean planet for tomorrow. 

Using 1% of pension funds to turn the tide

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has invested 1 per cent of the pension fund of 400,000 workers (1 billion rand or $109 million dollars) in renewable energy. NUMSA represents workers in the in energy-intensive industries including steel, chrome, aluminum and other smelters. It also represents workers in power stations, which are mainly coal powered, as well as in car factories and other metal and engineering-related sectors. In other words, NUMSA organises some of the “dirtiest” industries on the planet, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts on climate change. 

This shows that unions are committed to meaningful action on climate change, but also shows a commitment to a socially-owned renewable energy sector that will not serve to enrich private investors. Instead, NUMSA is using the power of workers’ pension funds to transition to a low-carbon economy. 

This is the type of initiative that can turn the tide to address this situation through greater democratic direction, public intervention, community control, and social ownership over energy options and resources that are so urgently needed.

Prairie Winds Blow Saskatchewan Towards a Renewable Future

Let’s face it, Saskatchewan doesn’t have a strong reputation for renewable energy. Fossil fuels supply three-quarters of the province’s electricity and the dependence on coal and natural gas mean that its power sector releases more carbon pollution per capita than any other Canadian province. But it seems Saskatchewan is looking towards the immense opportunity of wind power for a breath of fresh air!
Following initial research in the 1990s, SaskPower built its first wind generating facility in 2002. The Cypress Wind Power Facility has since been expanded to hold 16 turbines, producing up to 11 MW of electricity.

In 2006, SaskPower commissioned the Centennial Wind Power Facility, holding 83 turbines and producing 150 MG of electricity. Alone this facility can power up to 69,000 homes! The Government of Canada provided funding for both projects through the Wind Power Production Incentive program. Although a modest start, Saskatchewan is on its way to a more renewable future!

Canadian Green Jobs are on the Rise!

In 2013, 37% more Canadians worked in the renewable energy sector than in 2009. That’s 2,200 new jobs working towards a greener and more sustainable future!

Research into Renewables – P.E.I. as a World Leader in Wind Energy

A little known fact about Prince Edward Island – for decades it has played a key role in advancing the development of wind energy through research, testing, innovation, and collaboration. In 1980, the Atlantic Wind Test Site was opened at North Cape, PEI and later evolved into the Wind Energy Institute of Canada, which is now the country’s official wind research and development facility. In 2008, PEI introduced the Island Wind Energy Strategy that set out a 10-point plan to build on research and position itself in the wind energy sector. 

Fast-forward to 2015—PEI now hosts seven wind farms with a combined capacity of 173MW! The small island of PEI has successfully set its strategy, harnessed decades of research and become a world leader in wind power development. Now 30% of the province’s power is now supplied by wind!

Community Power in Gaspesie

The “Coopératives regroupées en énergies renouvelables du Québec” (CRERQ), is essentially a consortium of cooperatives, primarily in Gaspesie, that came together to ensure communities are at the centre of regional investments in wind energy and to avoid having developers and corporations parachute in with large-scale projects that don’t fit community needs and interests. 

CRERQ puts community-based wind farm projects in motion by applying for and acquiring tender from Hydro-Québec, and offering services like feasibility studies, help conceptualizing a project, financial planning, applications for funding insurance and helping with the process of connecting to the Hydro-Québec network. 

Many criteria have been included in their charter to ensure communities stay central to this process, for example: at least 50 per cent of the project must be controlled by the affected communities, development of local expertise, jobs, and businesses is a requirement from the very beginning of a project, and cooperatives are preferred in this example because they promote transparency and ensure a long-term relationship between the concerned parties.

Yukon Explores the Potential of Bioenergy

The Yukon Energy Corporation and Natural Resources Canada are teaming up to explore the potential for integrating bioenergy into the grid. The Yukon Bioenergy Demonstration Project looks at the challenges of integrating renewable energy technologies in Northern and Remote communities. The study aims to better understand the viability of electricity generation in the Yukon by using small-scale gasification technology and locally derived biomass feedstock (salvage and waste wood).

Exploring the potential of biomass energy production offers the possibility of new green jobs and a local renewable power supply for the north!