While much attention has been focused on energy efficiency initiatives in developing countries, we often overlook other opportunities that may be closer to home. Canada has tremendous natural hydrocarbon resources and for years has been the single largest foreign energy supplier to the United States.
With the incredible resources available in the oil sands of Alberta, Canada is also poised to become an energy superpower, with the potential to develop 175 billion barrels of oil, second only to Saudi Arabia. However, as is often the case in countries blessed with tremendous mineral wealth, it is easy for energy efficiency to take a back seat unless other forces are brought to bear. That being the case, there are also tremendous opportunities for efficiency gains through greater deployment of decentralized technologies.
For a number of years, one of those outside forces pushing for greater energy efficiency was the Alberta-based New Energy Resources Alliance (NewERA), a small non-profit organization which served as Canada’s association for decentralized energy. Through its groundbreaking research and studies, NewERA provided the intellectual foundation for change. At a recent meeting, the NewERA board voted to continue these efforts under the WADE umbrella and establish WADE Canada as the successor to NewERA. As an Alberta-based, non-profit organization, WADE Canada will carry on the legacy of NewERA and its fight for clean and sustainable energy.
More recently, WADE helped host Gary Lunn, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, during a visit to Washington and met Mel Knight, the Energy Minister of Alberta, in Edmonton to highlight the potential for reducing power costs and carbon dioxide emissions with decentralized energy. WADE also was part of an official Canadian delegation to the oil sands and got a first-hand glimpse of this massive resource base.
Besides the sheer scale of the operations, of particular interest to WADE was the way in which cogeneration has reduced the energy intensity of oilsand extraction by about half since 1996. Overall, the widespread adoption of decentralized energy is estimated to have resulted in a reduction of 7 MtCO2/year compared with production without the use of cogeneration. Many other industries in Canada are similarly positioned to take advantage of decentralized energy.
In addition, WADE assisted the renowned Pembina Institute and the WWF in their recent study: Renewable is Doable that examined electricity scenarios for Ontario that would meet future power demands without the use of nuclear power and coal, and that would generate lower emissions than the plan currently proposed by Ontario Power Authority. The Ontario government in mid-June launched two initiatives to promote DE in the province, including the Clean Energy Standard Offer Program (the first feed-in tariff including fossil-fired cogeneration in North America) along with a new request for proposals for large-scale CHP plants.
While Canada has long been famous for its hard hitting hockey, we believe that is also on the road to some hard hitting policy changes to drive efficiency and environmental targets. WADE is pleased to be part of the solution.
Director of WADE and Consulting Editor of COSPP