Priority 9: Earth, Wind and Solar
August 3, 2012
Ninth in a series on the ‘Now or Never” report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV).
Priority #9 highlights the importance of renewable energy to Canada’s energy future. And that’s possible because we have an abundance of water, wind, sunlight, geothermal and biomass resources. Renewable energy initiatives are often developed in response to addressing greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying energy supplies, meeting government regulations and satisfying consumer demands for renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy is primarily used to generate electricity. Hydropower accounts for about two thirds of our electricity generation here in Canada. The rest is generated by oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear. ‘Other’ renewables are also part of the mix but are just a sliver of our energy pie. The challenge is how can we grow that piece?
In Canada, the answer right now is slowly. But steadily. Canada’s wind power installed capacity is growing every year. Biomass-fired electricity generation (forest and agriculture waste, municipal solid waste and landfill gas) is being considered as an option to replace some coal-fired plants. Biofuel development is continuing to grow; all major oil refineries in Canada blend ethanol and biodiesel. And both solar and geothermal are heating options for residential and commercial development.
Canada certainly has the capacity to make good use of these resources if we can tackle the key issues. Upgrading of the electricity grid infrastructure is essential. Private and public funding of research we know is key to technology development and innovation. And realizing that municipal governments and consumers have a big role to play in developing renewable energy resources locally.
Today’s lesson is in your hands. I will supply you with sources about the big renewables in Canada, but as these industries are constantly evolving, I’d advise that you keep up with them. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I’ve recently posted several stories on renewables, and am always looking for more.
Canada is an enormous country, and has amazing potential for renewable energy. This is an exciting time for renewables, so I would definitely recommend that you look at these sites now and visit often. There are some truly fantastic things happening.
Canadian Wind Energy Association – Canada’s wind farms
Ontario – Small wind for home and farm
Canadian Solar Industries Association – Solar energy 101
Solar decathlon – Who will compete next?
Canadian Renewable Fuels Association – Public policy
BC – Bioenergy strategy
Canadian Geothermal Association – What is geothermal?
NRCan – Tides, rivers and waves
FORCE – Tidal energy (watch the Fundy Tidal Research video)