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Dec. 19, 2014 Alberta’s carbon pricing not best-in-Canada example
Prime Minister Stephen Harper cited Alberta's version of carbon pricing as a model that could be applied at a national scale. Our analysis has found that an Alberta-style model could work at the national level — but it wouldn’t be ideal.
Dec. 15, 2014 Green Gift Guide The best green gifts for the holiday season from Green Energy Futures
The best gifts for the green energy or energy efficiency nerd in your life.
Dec. 1, 2014 Green Energy Futures on solar air heating A simple, effective heating technology for Canada
We spend a lot of money and burn a lot of carbon keeping our homes and buildings warm. Solar air heating is a simple, effective and accessible technology that could help Canada reduce its heating bills.
Economic development discussions in B.C. too often centre on large-scale proposals like LNG terminals, oilsands pipelines or hydroelectric dams like Site C. While they don’t generate the same headlines, it’s small- to medium-sized companies that are actually driving the provincial economy, employing 94 per cent of B.C.’s private sector employees.
One year ago British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy that included a commitment to “transform the market for energy efficiency and lead the way to ‘net-zero’ buildings.” With the release of a 2014 Annual Progress Summary, it’s a good time to ask how B.C. has fared in keeping this promise.
Nov. 25, 2014 How wind and solar reduces the price of electricity in Alberta How renewable energy is lowering electricity bills in Canada's most fossil fuel dependent province
Learn how in Canada's most fossil fuel friendly province it's wind and solar energy that are driving down prices for consumers.
Finance Minister de Jong will have the final say on which of these recommendations are included in the 2015 budget. My general recommendation would be the same one that I made in a presentation to the Committee in September: Use the provincial budget as one of the tools to advance Climate Action Plan 2.0. That advice still holds and the Committee has offered a number of ideas that would help to move the budget in that direction.
Nov. 18, 2014 Welcome to Canada's first concentrated solar thermal plant Medicine Hat, "The Gas City," goes solar
Welcome to Canada's first concentrated solar thermal energy plant. It's located in Medicine Hat, at the highest latitude that this type of project has ever been built. Learn about this innovative, groundbreaking project as well as how Medicine Hat, a city endowed with plentiful fossil fuel resources, has diversified to clean energy.
Greg Schnell is a technical stock analyst and he's also my brother-in-law. He makes a good living researching, writing and investing in stocks based on historical stock chart data. So when, unprompted, he started telling me about the good things he was seeing in the solar industry I was intrigued. This week learn why one stock analyst thinks the future is bright for the solar industry.
Nov. 5, 2014 Lessons from B.C.’s carbon tax A backgrounder
It’s been hailed as an environmental and economic “success,” a “textbook case” in carbon pricing and “on the right track” toward good economic policy. British Columbia’s carbon tax has been in place for six years, and all available evidence shows it’s working.
Nov. 4, 2014 Echohaven: An environmentally friendly, energy efficient suburb A greenfield development that preserves natural spaces, retains stormwater on site, mandates energy efficient homes and builds community
Echohaven is a different kind of suburban development. It preserves natural landscapes, mandates energy efficient homes and guarantees solar access. Located in northwest Calgary, it's greenfield development done differently. Come with us to Echohaven and explore how we can do suburban development better.
Oct. 30, 2014 Three ideas to improve B.C.’s new carbon rules for LNG
Bill 2 (regulating carbon pollution from LNG terminals in B.C.) has significant flaws that will limit its potential benefit and could even weaken B.C.’s climate policies in a worst-case scenario. Here are three of the most important weaknesses and some ideas on how to address them.
Oct. 29, 2014 How to make your smart meter even smarter
Chances are the electricity meter in your home is dumb as a sack of hammers. We head to Medicine Hat, Alberta, to find out what smart meters are, and we talk to the CEO of a company that makes smart meters even smarter.
As natural gas flaring increases in Alberta, it is encouraging that the Alberta Energy Regulator seems to be taking action. Using natural gas in vehicles is a partial solution in the offing that could yield dividends all around.
Oct. 20, 2014 Integrated bio-refinery produces ethanol, heat, power and fertilizer from 500 tonnes of cow poop per day
Learn how a grain farm in rural Alberta diversified its operations and ended up with a feedlot, a biogas plant and an ethanol plant — with one business upcycling the waste from another.
Oct. 14, 2014 Is Alberta Canada's next big solar market? Green Energy Futures talks to industry reps and Alberta's energy minister at the CanSIA Solar West conference
On a bright fall day in early October in a packed ballroom in a downtown Calgary hotel, Frank Oberle made his first speech as energy minister to Alberta’s small solar industry.
Building and running a comprehensive monitoring program for the oilsands that keeps pace with the rapid growth of the industry is very challenging — especially considering how huge the industry is already. Oilsands development currently produces 61 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution, consumes 185 billion litres of freshwater annually and has directly transformed more land area than the entire city of Calgary.
Oct. 10, 2014 Earthship sets sail in southern Alberta with help of Green Energy Futures editor A radically sustainable home
When you tell people you’re building an Earthship there are two stock responses. First there are the believers. These are the people who’ve watched Garbage Warrior, twice. They want to talk design and permits and timeline. They’re into it. The other stock response is an incredulous repeating of the word back to you with a question mark attached. Earthship?
American poet, philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
A net-zero home reimagines the house not as a burden on the planet but as a regenerative node. Thoreau and his time at Walden Pond happened well before the modern spectre of climate change, but he was a naturalist and keenly attuned to what was going on around him.
Sept. 18, 2014 B.C. communities call for provincial cooperation on energy efficient buildings Five resolutions at UBCM's 2014 convention aim to increase the tools available to local governments
Six years after signing the Climate Action Charter, communities in B.C. continue to develop and pilot policies to improve energy efficiency in buildings, despite significant jurisdictional roadblocks.
Five resolutions at UBCM’s 2014 convention aim to resolve these challenges and help communities continue to lead on energy efficiency.
Sept. 15, 2014 Net-Zero simple: How passive solar energy gets you close to zero Episode three of Green Energy Futures' Chasing Net-Zero series
It’s a beautiful, livable, functional net-zero experiment — welcome to the home of architect Shafraaz Kaba.
“As an architect, we are always testing new ideas. We are creating little experiments for ourselves to prove that something is possible, or to prove different materials work well together. We even just want to know for ourselves that things can actually work out well before we try it on clients,” says Kaba.
Aug. 25, 2014 Air quality data to Government of Alberta: your move
The Government of Alberta reported this month that air quality in areas near oilsands development in Northern Alberta was recorded as exceeding warning levels in 2012. While investments in air quality monitoring are beginning to pay off, this data will place a new Premier in a difficult position.
Aug. 21, 2014 Net-zero beautiful: How design and location can reduce your energy footprint Green Energy Futures - Infill revitalizes neighbourhoods
In part II of our Chasing net zero series we look at Innovative infill home design that can help reduce your energy footprint. Also learn how a solar home competition is helping make cool solar homes that are more and more affordable.
Aug. 9, 2014 Net-Zero 101: The incredible rapid rise of net-zero homes Green Energy Futures - A home that produces as much energy as it consumes
Over the course of a year a net-zero home will generate as much energy as it consumes. They’ve been around for less than 10 years, but these buildings and the thinking behind them are taking North America by storm as we learn in Net Zero 101.
Aug. 9, 2014 Canada has a bright future in green energy, success stories show Green Energy Futures now at Pembina.org
Pembina's Green Energy Futures episodes are now featured at Pembin.org
July 31, 2014 How to design stakeholder engagement to build trust Lessons from case studies on carbon capture and storage
We recently explored lessons learned from consultation processes for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. What we learned can be applied to any kind of energy development and is especially useful for developers of sources of oil and gas that use new or unknown technologies and approaches.
July 10, 2014 Auditor General’s scathing review ups pressure to improve Alberta’s weak climate policy
This week, the Alberta Auditor General released the scathing results of his review of the province’s climate change strategy. Despite recommendations from two previous audits, the report found the government still lacks a definitive plan to meet its climate targets and to report progress.
July 10, 2014 Making sense of fossil fuel subsidies
In 2009, Canada committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies along with the other member states of the G20. But five years later, Canadian taxpayers continue to subsidize a sector that is both profitable and well established. As our latest report explains, the financial support Canada gives the oil sector is unnecessary given the favourable economic reality that sector currently faces.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) has come as close as it likely ever will to admitting that the design of the Primrose Cyclic Steam Stimulation project has failed, and that this failure led to the four bitumen and steam emulsion blowouts that were discovered several kilometres apart just over one year ago.
July 7, 2014 Future-proofing the oil and gas sector
Energy companies are doubling down on oil, even as the likelihood of government action on climate change has never been higher. If local leaders like Cenovus are getting out of the renewables game, what does that mean for the oil and gas sector’s ability to proactively adapt to a carbon-constrained world?
July 4, 2014 B.C. Climate Action Plan 2.0?
In case you weren’t poring over government news releases on the Monday before Canada Day, you might have missed B.C.’s 2014 Climate Progress Report. While it has some controversial elements, it’s predominantly positive news that merits attention.
June 6, 2014 The costs of losing social licence
The degree to which Canadians and others will grant social licence to resource development proposals and proponents will largely hinge on whether — and how — industry and governments choose to implement these solutions to environmental performance and carbon emissions.
June 5, 2014 Climate change may be closer than you think
With climate change, there will be surprises — such as the news that the West Antarctic ice sheet is declining, and more quickly than expected.
The question is: when will the next surprise happen, and will we be prepared?
The Obama administration unveiled its significant plans to tackle carbon pollution from coal-fired electricity generation this week. Those plans include a commitment to reduce electricity emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and strong targets for near-term reductions by 2020.
I had the privilege to spend some time a few weeks ago at the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association’s annual conference, where one participant described geothermal as Canada’s ‘have not’ renewable energy industry. The 'have not' label is appropriate, since there are no existing commercial geothermal electricity projects in Canada, and limited to no geothermal-specific government support. Where Canadian geothermal companies have been successful is, surprisingly, everywhere but Canada.
April 17, 2014 Big shiny trends: Canada’s new emissions numbers
Every year, industrialized countries publish their national inventories of carbon pollution. Canada’s vast and detailed report, meticulously assembled by Environment Canada, gives us a thorough picture of where our greenhouse gas emissions come from, and how they have changed since 1990. We check in on three key stories in the 2014 inventory report.
April 17, 2014 Getting back in gear: oilsands climate performance
Oilsands emission performance doesn’t have to stay stuck in neutral. The roadmap to lower emissions intensity in oilsands is becoming apparent. But for that to become a reality, we need a policy framework that makes sure the cleanest technologies are also the smartest investment.
April 16, 2014 Oilsands talking point collides with reality
Proponents of oilsands expansion often repeat that missions per barrel have been reduced by 26 per cent between 1990 and 2011. The message implies that things are getting better all the time. Given the scale of oilsands expansion planned for the coming decades, it’s worth venturing past the talking point to better understand these emissions intensity improvements and whether or not they will continue.
The Pembina Institute, Arctic Energy Alliance, and Dehcho First Nations teamed up to organize a Dehcho Community Renewable Energy Forum last month in Fort Providence, NWT, to provide opportunities to hear from technical experts about biomass and solar energy options, as well as from communities about the challenges and the lessons they’ve learned when it comes to renewable energy projects.
Last month, scientists from Environment Canada released a study citing research that estimated the rate at which tailings water is likely seeping from one lake (and into groundwater systems hydraulically connected to the Athabasca River). The research cited determined that rate to be 6.5 million litres per day. We discuss the study research in the context of oilsands expansion and how governments should respond to this information.
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