Despite even our best efforts to conserve energy, the relentless demand for it will continue to rise. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it cleaner than coal-fired electricity generation. Canadian Environmental Protection Act regulations (which take effect July, 2015) dictate that existing coal-fired plants must meet certain carbon dioxide standards.
If they can’t, they’ve got to go.
Enter natural gas. It has already been assuming its rightful place; expected to grow in Canada to 15 per cent of our energy mix. It’s already been making great reductions to Ontario’s emissions of greenhouse gases and airborne particulate matter. But not only is it clean, affordable and reliable – conversion from coal power brings economic activity.
Canadian power utilities are expected to create $347.5 billion in generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure over the next two decades (or an average of $13 billion per year). This will contribute $10.9 billion to Canada’s GDP and support 156,000 jobs each and every year. Natural gas electricity generation is expected to grow to 8,900 megawatts (effectively doubling current levels), the majority of it split between Alberta and Ontario, with smaller amounts in other provinces.
To complement our energy mix diversity, there will be new investments in wind power and nuclear. Natural gas’ role will be as a scalable, rational “bridging” energy source, working flexibly with these renewable – though sometimes unreliable – energy sources. When they can’t produce what a city needs, natural gas can always be called on to do the job.
But that’s at the very heart of natural gas: clean, reliable, and abundant. Its flexibility has wide-ranging, positive implications for consumers, manufacturing and transportation. Converting creates jobs and a better standard of living for us all.
We look forward to a more diverse power mix. How about you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.