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Canada needs more electricity to meet its climate goals: report –

To meet the federal government’s ambitious climate-change goals, Canada needs to boost its capacity to generate electricity, which will require regulatory changes and close collaboration with provincial governments, says a new report from the International Energy Agency.

Ottawa has promised to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by: building a non-emitting electricity grid; mandating the sale of electric vehicles; and limiting emissions from the oil and gas sector, among other means.

But if such policies are implemented, Canada’s need for electricity will skyrocket.

“In order to reach its net-zero targets by 2050, Canada will need to electrify large parts of its fossil-dominated sectors, such as transportation, buildings, industry, and remaining oil and gas production,” reads the International Energy Agency (IEA) report.

“Moreover, its highly decentralized system of government means coordination among federal, provincial, and territorial governments is essential for a successful energy transition.”

Canada’s existing electricity grid is already quite clean, by global standards. More than 80 per cent of its sources are green, “thanks in large part to the dominance of hydro power and the important role of nuclear,” the IEA said.

And key to boosting production is ensuring it’s done using climate-friendly sources such as hydro and wind.

That increased electrification “will double today’s demand for electricity, and the net-zero imperative will require a doubling or tripling of power generated from non-emitting sources compared to today,” the IEA said.

Despite heaping praise on the climate-change policies the Liberal government has implemented since 2015, the IEA warns that “the path is not straightforward,” and “will require significant regulatory action.”

“Potential drivers (of) future regulatory reform” include: building a grid that can better respond to the intermittent supply generated by renewables like wind and solar (which only produce power when the wind blows or the sun shines); distributing energy generation among sources that don’t generate GHGs; and ensuring consumers can adjust their electricity use during on- and off-peak times.

Adopting new technologies to store energy will also be important in the fight against climate change, as will cross-jurisdictional collaboration, the report’s authors say.

“Strengthening interprovincial connectivity (will) allow fossil-fuel-dependent provinces to decarbonize and electrify their economies,” the report reads.

Having a hydro-rich province like B.C. next to one like Alberta that’s dependent on fossil fuels “yields opportunities to create a win-win situation through cross-border trade,” the report notes, but laments the fact that such trade “may not be a priority for some provincial utilities” because it doesn’t currently make financial sense.

Though clearly frustrated by a lack of collaboration in the West, the report’s authors did praise “win-win” projects like the Atlantic Loop, which would reduce coal use in eastern Canada by connecting electricity-generating plants in Atlantic Canada to ones in Quebec.

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