Jim Prentice, Canada’s environment minister, gives a remarkable interview with The Globe and Mail published on Wednesday on plans to meet the government target of “having a 90-per-cent emission-free electricity sector by 2025″:
OTTAWA “” The federal government is planning sweeping new climate-change regulations for Canada’s electricity sector that will phase out traditional coal-fired power.
Any new coal plants will have to include highly expensive — and unproven — technology to capture greenhouse gas emissions and inject it underground for permanent storage, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said in an interview yesterday.
Ottawa also plans to impose absolute emission caps on utilities’ existing coal-fired power plants and establish a market-based system to allow them to buy credits to meet those targets, Mr. Prentice said.
Electricity users in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia would be hit hard by the new rules, as their provinces rely on coal for more than 70 per cent of their power, and alternatives will be costly.
“The approach that we’ve been working towards involves a cap-and-trade system relating to thermal coal, and the requirement of phasing out those facilities as they reach the end of their useful, fully-amortized life,” Mr. Prentice said.
“The concept is that, as these facilities are fully amortized and their useful life fully expended, they would not be replaced with coal,” the minister said.
He added that coal would be an option if it produced near-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
This phaseout is driven by Canada’s tough target for power generation:
[The government] has set a target of having a 90-per-cent emission-free electricity sector by 2025, a goal that will require increased use of nuclear, wind power, hydro and other renewables. Given Canada’s long dependence on hydro in Quebec and British Columbia, and nuclear and hydro in Ontario, the country already has one of the least emitting electricity sectors in the developed world.
Still, coal-fired electricity represents roughly 18 per cent of Canada’s current emissions….
Epcor Power LP, of Edmonton, has spent more than $30-million in developing new combustion technology, and is hoping to win provincial funding to build a capture-and-storage project, along with its partner Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.
“We are absolutely supportive” of the federal proposal, said Epcor’s executive vice-president, Brian Vaasjo. “We know that as the existing fleet of coal plants reach the end of their economic lives it will be important for there to be technology available that can be utilized to continue the use of coal.”
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) today provided more details about plans to steer a major energy bill through his committee before the Memorial Day recess.
Next week, the committee will mark up Bingaman’s draft plan to bolster the federal role in interstate transmission siting after providing panel members with a “walk through” of the revised plan tomorrow. A walk through gives members a chance to ask questions and raise objections, but there are not amendments and votes, which are saved for a formal markup.
While the plan was floated earlier this week, the committee today provided other information about schedules and topics for the coming weeks. Also on tap next week: a markup of a bipartisan proposal to create an independent “clean energy deployment administration” within the Energy Department to handle loan guarantees and other financing of alternative energy projects, as well as nuclear energy provisions.
The committee will also review Bingaman’s plan for a national renewable electricity standard, or RES, which requires utilities to supply escalating amounts of power from renewable sources.
Then, during the week of May 11, the committee will mark up the renewables mandate, as well as provisions on building sector energy efficiency and cybersecurity. It will also act on Obama administration nominations, though who would be considered was not spelled out by the committee today.
Finally, during the week of May 18, the committee will mark up provisions relating to oil and gas development on public lands; carbon capture, transport and storage; plans to include refined products such as gasoline in the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve; and any other outstanding provisions, the committee announcement states.
Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana has invited John Engler, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a former GOP governor of Michigan, and a handful of other experts to make the case that a carbon cap will dramatically increase energy costs for consumers.
“Our energy summits will explain the economic impact of the Democrats’ cap-and-tax legislation and provide common-sense solutions that lower energy costs, increase supply and create energy independence for the American people,” Pence said.
The panelists include scholars from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, the president of Laredo Petroleum and a former official at the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Obama administration, in a major environmental policy shift, is leaning toward asking 195 nations that ratified the U.N. ozone treaty to enact mandatory reductions in hydrofluorocarbons, according to U.S. officials and documents obtained by The Associated Press.
“We’re considering this as an option,” Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Adora Andy said Wednesday, emphasizing that while a final decision has not been made it was accurate to describe this as the administration’s “preferred option.”
The federal stimulus package and the city’s ambitious “green building” initiative should provide a jobs bonanza for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) specialists, city officials said yesterday.
Addressing HVAC specialists at a gathering here, a senior policy adviser for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) said plans to bolster buildings’ energy efficiency include a “green work force” package that relies on the City University of New York, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to train workers.
Bloomberg’s “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” was announced on Earth Day and focuses heavily on enhancing the energy efficiency of existing structures. City officials estimate that buildings are the source of about 80 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
PHOTOVOLTAIC cells are already a familiar sight on rooftops. But one day, miniature cells may also be found in more unconventional places: power-generating windows, car sunroofs or even awnings.
The new technology is the work of a researcher and his colleagues who developed a way to print ultrathin, semitransparent and flexible cells on plastic, cloth and other materials. If the technology succeeds, it may provide the solar industry with alternatives to the fixed installations that are common today: cells may be printed on plastic rolls that could be unfurled for dozens of uses, or stamped onto fabric for T-shirts or other clothes that collect energy while worn.
Consumers are skeptical about a wave of green advertising even as the overall value of that market is exploding, according to results of market research issued today by Havas Media, a unit of Havas, a global marketing company based in Paris.
The study, Sustainable Futures ’09, finds that many companies are unable to get their messages through to consumers because some marketing campaigns are seen as little more than opportunism on the part of big business.
Lockheed and a few other companies are pursuing ocean thermal energy conversion, which uses the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its chilly depths to generate electricity.
Experts say that the balmy waters off Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as near United States military bases on islands like Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or Guam in the Pacific, would be good sites for developing this type of energy.
Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten