CANWEA 2017: Canada on course to miss federal targets

CANADA: The federal government's goal of supplying 90% of electricity from non-emitting sources is unlikely to be met, delegates attending the second day of Canadian Wind Energy Association's (CANWEA) annual conference heard.

Canada's percentage of zero-emissions generation will be only marginally higher in 2030 (pic: EEF)

Preliminary results from a study commissioned by CANWEA and the Canadian Solar Industries Association found the percentage of zero-emissions generation will be only marginally higher in 2030 than the current level of 79%, despite the fact that Canada is phasing out coal-fired generation over the same timeframe.

"Frankly, the results show we are on track to fall well, well short of the 90% target," said CANWEA president Robert Hornung.

The problem is that cheap and abundant natural gas is expected to drive a significant amount of new fossil fuel generation build in the coming years, and because those assets are long-lived, they will put Canada's Paris climate commitments at risk.

The government needs to act now to provide power producers with the right investment signals "before we get too far down that road," Hornung said.

"Decarbonisation doesn't actually stop with coal. It also needs to address natural gas. In Canada, we've not had that discussion," he added.

Hornung argued that Canada should be moving to an emissions-free grid and using the electricity in as many end uses as possible in order to make the deep greenhouse gas reductions required to limit the global temperature increase to 2C.

"Canada is better positioned than any major industrial economy in the world to move to a 100% climate-friendly grid. If Canada can't do it, nobody can," Hornung noted.