Dan Goldberger is Chairman of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association with 30 years of experience in energy efficiency, electric utilities, natural gas technology commercialization, and energy storage.
How best do we address climate change while ensuring we retain energy reliability in Canada?
Solving pressing climate change issues:
According to Natural Resources Canada, today our electricity grid today is 82% carbon-free. But our overall energy system is comprised of both electricity and natural gas and produces carbon or methane from several sources such as oil and gas, industrial plants, processing, landfills, transportation, buildings, and homes. Canada is entirely within its own control to move us toward a lower carbon footprint. Canada must first embrace innovative technologies to transition towards a low carbon economy, ensuring our technology companies have a “home court advantage” to enter export-markets.
What are the technology options?
The technology options are varied, but the premise is that we need to move to greater electrification of our building stock and transportation. By enhancing regulatory policy, strategic government incentives, codes and standards, and broadening financing, we achieve a full “value chain impact”:
- Ensure energy efficiency (and new LEED Buildings) remains the least-cost option to reduce energy consumption and install energy efficiency technologies that offer the deepest carbon reductions like greenhouse gases (GHGs).
- Boost industry capacity for installing geoexchange, the most space-efficient heating and cooling technology with decades of installations, building codes, and accepted CSA standards.
- Support the development of distributed energy resources (DERs) or mini-grids including AI, with appropriate policy to avoid placing a burden on our local electric systems.
- Encourage energy storage deployment to defer grid (T&D) investments, thereby more reliably backing up increasing amounts of intermittent solar and wind technologies.
- Grow the bioeconomy in the north using biomass fuelled by locally-sourced wood pellets.
- Green our natural gas supply with increasing use of renewable natural gas (RNG).
- Invest in scaled-up power-to-gas using electrolizers for storage in our gas distribution network.
- Produce surplus hydrogen from our nuclear reactor fleet (off-peak) to deploy in HDVs.
- Electrify fleets, install L-2/L-3 chargers, conduct pilots to mitigate load impacts on utilities.
- Invest in cybersecurity protection to enhance operations of smart grid and electric vehicle (EV) deployments.
- Support carbon capture, waste to energy, and other circular economy technologies.
How to achieve a low-carbon society
At the end of the day, there’s not one single policy, one single technology, or one single incentive that will achieve a low carbon society in Canada. Rather, it’s moving forward to embrace innovative technologies as costs come down, better urban planning to include the smarter use of energy, and to recognize the full life cycle impacts of our decisions that will ensure we move in the right direction.
Clean technology has the potential to greatly reduce and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and achieve a low carbon society.