Last month, as the international climate change talks in Durban, South Africa wound up, Canada invoked the country’s legal right to leave the Kyoto Protocol. Canadian officials cited several reasons for their departure from the accord; the main reason is that Canada is seeking to avoid the financial penalties from its failure to comply with its stated targets for reductions of carbon emissions. Canada’s representatives have also indicated that Kyoto is irrelevant without the participation of two of the largest polluters: China and the United States.
That argument aside, as oil prices continue to rise over time and the opportunity cost of domestic consumption increases, Canada may decide to maximize the country’s oil exports at the expense of domestic use. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the country’s 175.2 billion barrels of proven reserves of oil put Canada behind only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and it is the only non-OPEC member in the top five. That means that the global market for oil exports may give Canada an economic reason to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and thus emissions, within its own borders. Canada, along with other petroleum-exporting countries will simply export a larger proportion of oil along with the emissions they produce.
In terms of electricity generation, Canada’s vast hydroelectricity generation capacity and pumped storage reserves are often cited as the reason why further improvements in emissions are not economically viable. Cheap, low-carbon hydro prices many other cleantech options out of the market. For that reason, one opportunity for Canada lies in ensuring the stability of the electrical grid as a system. The provinces of British Columbia and Ontario have been especially aggressive in introducing the types of market drivers that encourage distributed storage, although without any obvious overall intent. These drivers include dynamic pricing, distributed solar PV incentives, and plug-in vehicle programs.
For example, in Ontario (a partially deregulated market), there are three different time-of-use prices: 6.2¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for off-peak, 9.2¢/kWh for mid-peak, 10.8¢/kWh for on-peak – and these prices are reviewed every May 1 and November 1 by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). British Columbia, and more specifically BC Hydro, is testing smart meters, dynamic pricing schemes, and demand response schemes (hot water heaters and thermostats) in an effort to understand how consumers use and respond to these peak-shaving measures.
Because of Canada’s position as a net energy exporter, and the country’s diverse energy resources (including hydro), any improvements to emissions on the grid side will be limited to incremental improvements in the grid. Distributed storage is a good option for optimizing an existing system – such as the Canadian grid – bit by bit, and kilowatt-hour by kilowatt-hour.
Tags: Climate Change, Grid-Tied Energy Storage, Policy & Regulation, Smart Energy Practice, Transmission & Distribution
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