VANCOUVER — Experts from across Canada agree that renewable, distributed energy technologies are more acceptable low-carbon power sources than nuclear, large hydro and carbon capture and storage, according to a report released today by the David Suzuki Foundation.
Talking Transition: Shaping Canada’s Clean Power Pathways includes survey results from 150 people working in the energy sector on their views of Canadian preferences and values around the energy transition. The report’s results support findings from cross-Canada energy dialogues, which concluded that Canada’s future energy system will be “clean, safe, reliable, accessible and affordable.”
“As government discusses the best pathways to economic recovery from the pandemic, we hope they listen to people working in the energy sector,” said Foundation climate analyst Tom Green. “Investments in low-carbon infrastructure like solar, wind and grid upgrades are key for decarbonization and a green recovery in Canada.”
Some technologies that have been touted as green economic-recovery options, such as large and small nuclear and carbon capture and storage, are among the lowest-rated technology preferences. Technologies like solar, wind and geothermal, all readily available and dropping in price, are perceived to be among the most acceptable options. Energy efficiency, conservation and trade between provinces were also highlighted as key priorities.
The report notes a number of social aspects that must be considered in the transition to low-carbon technologies, including Indigenous rights, environmental rights, community engagement, types of ownership and where projects are built. “With Indigenous communities already leading the clean-energy transition, it will be crucial to centre Indigenous rights, priorities, ownership and expertise,” Green said.
The report highlights five main themes energy modelling and policy work must consider:
- Add nuance to the story by speaking to the impacts and benefits of the energy transition.
- Evaluate potential for deeper energy retrofits of buildings by focusing on energy savings, and electrification of space and water heating with heat pumps.
- Explore different visions of scale, shifting from reliance on larger gigawatt-scale projects to more distributed resources.
- Focus on energy literacy to overcome the hurdles of misinformation about the energy transition.
- Consider emerging opportunities to diversify and electrify Canada’s energy systems as part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transitioning to carbon-free clean electricity as Canada’s single-largest energy source is an important part of any green economic recovery package, as well as essential to Canada’s 2050 decarbonization goals.
Because Canada has abundant hydroelectricity, the carbon-free portion of its power generation is already enough to cover more than 90 per cent of domestic electricity needs. To provide carbon-free electricity to all Canadians, it will be necessary to build new transmission links between those provinces with plentiful hydro and those without. Federal stimulus funds could be used to prepare for the transition through accelerating new distributed power, smart grid systems and power sharing between provinces.
“We know that Canadians overwhelming support a transition to renewable energy, and it matters which technologies, approaches, scales and ownership models are used to get us to zero emissions by 2050 or sooner,” Green said. “The energy transition will be smoothest if we work together toward the same pathway.”
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About Clean Power Pathways initiative:
- Talking Transition: Shaping Canada’s Clean Power Pathways is the second phase of Clean Power Pathways: Fast-Tracking Canada’s Energy Transition, a three-year initiative of the David Suzuki Foundation and its academic and organizational partners. The survey was conducted before the COVID pandemic began in Canada.
- This report builds on Zeroing in on Emissions: Canada’s Clean Power Pathways, a review of decarbonization research and models with recommendations on the policy mix needed to reach zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.
- The Clean Power Pathways initiative is Canada’s first integrated national renewable energy study. The final modelling results, policy recommendations and road map for electrifying and decarbonizing Canada’s energy systems are expected in 2022.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Theresa Beer, David Suzuki Foundation: 778-874-3396, firstname.lastname@example.org