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about energy

by Warren McKay

Canada uses fossil fuels for the majority of its energy production. Renewable sources of energy are essential alternatives to fossil fuels. Renewables include hydro-electric power, wind power, solar power (thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated), tidal power, geothermal energy, and biomass. The use of renewables reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, diversifies our energy supply, and reduces our dependence fossil fuel markets (in particular oil and gas).

Canada has a tremendous wealth of energy resources. These energy resource are and will remain a foundational element of Canada's prosperity, and geopolitical advantage. However, wealth tends to make one complacent. Canada's energy wealth has hidden major vulnerabilities. There are growing concerns about the environmental effects of energy production, and use in Canada's energy sector. Energy demand is projected to increase by 34% by 2025. Of increasing importance to Canadians, as citizens of the planet, is the impact of energy industries on land, water, and air quality, and perhaps most notably - climate change from the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Canada ranks an embarrassing 27 out of 29 OECD nations in terms of energy use per capita. Canadians annually consume 6.19 tonnes of oil equivalent per capita. This is almost double the OECD average of 3.18 tonnes of oil equivalent per capita, and more than five times the world average. Only residents of Iceland, and Luxembourg use more energy per capita than Canadians. Some would rather use measurements that make Canada rank higher by using, as a base, elements of abundance in Canada, such as land area, but this is generally seen as self-serving.

British Columbia has some of the lowest electricity rates in North America, and almost all of B.C.'s energy comes from hydro electrical generation facilities.  BC Hydro has a great website with lots of information on ways to conserve energy. Citizens should make themselves informed of the energy debate within BC, and read the BC Energy Plan.

AAlthough B.C. is blessed with significant renewable energy, we do not stand-alone and should view this energy wealth within a broader context.

did you know

  • Between 1990 and 2004, energy-consuming industries had an extremely positive record of energy intensity during a period of strong growth in output (45%). In 2004, Canada’s mining, manufacturing and construction sectors used 24% less energy to produce a unit of product than they did in 1990.
  • In contrast, energy-producing industries became 15% more energy intensive between 1990 and 2004; as production rose by 33%, energy use increased by 53%. This increase in energy intensity occurred in both the upstream oil and gas, and electricity generation sectors.
  • In the upstream oil and gas sector, it takes more energy to produce oil and gas today than it did in the past; conventional oil and gas reserves are increasingly more difficult to access, thus requiring more energy. The more intensive extraction process in the oil sands uses more energy compared to conventional reserves.
  • In the electricity generation sector, the increased energy intensity results from a decrease in electricity generated from non energy-intensive hydroelectric sources relative to the more energy-intensive coal and natural gas-fired generation.

Source: Government of Canada

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