A report by the Conference Board of Canada shows how three Canadian provinces, Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia, have significantly cut their greenhouse gas emissions by transforming their electricity sectors.
In its June 2019 Powering Down Emissions study, the CBoC examined how the three provinces made changes in electricity generation, which cut their GHG emissions and significantly impacted the environment.
“Every province can achieve results with a different plan of action, as evidenced in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta,” said Dr. Ovo Adagha, lead researcher on the project. “Provinces are capitalizing on their unique opportunities and challenges and creating bespoke roadmaps for future improvement.”
In Alberta, despite electricity demand climbing by 15 per cent since 2005, GHG emissions from the province’s electricity sector fell over the past decade and dropped by 5.4 per cent in 2016.
Under the former NDP government’s Climate Leadership Plan, Alberta’s electricity generation from coal fell by 6.8 per cent, while natural gas-powered electricity generation increased by 11 per cent between 2016 and 2017.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, over time, a decline in Alberta’s GHG emissions is expected due to a shift in the province’s generation capacity towards natural gas and renewable energy generation.
As well, Alberta’s plans to phase out coal-fired electricity by 60 per cent by 2026, is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 47 per cent between 2019 and 2030.
In Ontario, the province saw in increase in electricity demand of 4 per cent in 2018 after years of falling demand. In 2016, about 90 per cent of electricity in the province came from non-GHG-emitting sources.
The Conference Board of Canada credits the phase out of coal-fired generation, infrastructure investments and conservation for the decline in Ontario’s electricity sector’s GHG emissions by over 80 per cent since 2005.
The CBoC predicts Ontario’s electricity sector emissions will drop by 17 per cent between 2019 and 2030 thanks to gains in energy efficiency and growing relevance of energy storage technology.
Finally, in Nova Scotia, the province has seen a drop in its electricity demand by 8 per cent since 2005. Currently, over 70 per cent of the province’s electricity generation is from coal and natural gas. Despite that, Nova Scotia’s electricity sector GHG emissions have fallen by more than 38 per cent since 2005 because of GHG reduction measures.
The CBoC says Nova Scotia’s electricity sector emissions will fall by about one-third by 2030 as the province shifts its energy sources to renewables.
In Canada, GHG emissions are down by 34 per cent since 2005 and the CBoC says further reductions are expected.
“In each province, electricity generators are playing a leadership role in the move to a cleaner economy,” said Dr. Adagha. “Our report demonstrates the critical role that the electricity sector is already playing in reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”