Canada is developing a clean electricity standard. Does Hawaii Have Lessons For Us?

what on earth22:00Learning from Hawaii’s renewable energy transition

Canada is developing new regulations to reduce electrical emissions, but experts warn of loopholes. What can the Hawaiian experience teach us?

Canada has just 13 years to accomplish a colossal task: virtually eliminating its electric emissions while scaling up the grid to replace the fossil fuels that fuel its cars, homes and factories.

It is a double bond that calls for unprecedented action. Canada is developing a regulatory tool to get there – the clean electricity standard, a major step in the government’s goal of achieving a zero-grid electricity by 2035.

said Pino Giakumar, Program Director of Electricity at Pembina Institute.

Jayakumar said the upcoming regulation will play like a forget-me-not on electric emissions, setting a standard for how much each utility can produce per unit of power generated and, ideally, reduce it over time.

If utilities emissions are too high when regulations take effect, they will be forced to buy offsets or shut down work — and those consequences could push non-emission renewables like wind and solar to the top.

Canada is not the first jurisdiction to develop such regulation. In various forms, electricity regulations have helped spur renewable development in the United States since the late 1990s, and now extend across 30 states. Hawaii leads the group, whose goal of reaching 100 percent renewables by 2045 has helped accelerate its transition from imported fossil fuels. The state now has six times more renewable energy on its grid than Canada.

Isaac Morewak, director of attorneys at Mid-Pacific’s Honolulu office, said Hawaii’s standards have been “helpful” in the shift.

“It creates an accelerating effect where when you point that direction, and get ready, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said.

Canada’s plan under examination

Unlike government standards in the United States, the upcoming Canadian national standard could provide a unifying role in a country where electricity is locally controlled.

Jeyakumar believes that the policy signal is especially important to support it Building a transition between provinces To harmonize renewable energy capacities in the regions. “The investment needed to do something like this requires an effort at the national level,” she said.

Last month, Canada’s Department of Environment and Climate Change presented snap window in future regulations, with a draft expected by the end of the year.

Pino Gyakumar is the Director of the Electricity Program at the Pembina Institute. (Pembina Institute)

Environment and Climate Change Minister Stephen Gilbolt described it as “an essential part of our government’s plan for a healthy environment and a healthy economy” in press release.

But Jiakumar’s Pembina Institute and other environmental organizations are raising concerns.

“There is a lot that needs to change,” said Stephen Thomas, Climate Solutions Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. “These proposed regulations are unlikely to achieve the primary goal of a zero-electricity system across Canada by 2035.”

Gas extensions, exemptions and loopholes

Giacomar notes that natural gas poses a significant threat to Canada’s net goals.

Although the majority of Canada’s electricity comes from non-emitted hydropower, future demand could change this balance. Without a regulatory standard, Jayakumar said, the country could see a 70 percent increase in gas use by 2035.

While the standard is making some efforts to reduce emissions from gas-fired power, Jayakumar points out the remaining gaps.

First, the regulations are set to go into effect in 2035, leaving more than a decade without any regulations in place. “Waiting so long, given all the political uncertainties in the next 13 years, is really weakening the signal for investors,” Jayakumar said. what on earth Host Laura Lynch.

It is unclear how many power installations will be regulated under the new standard. As currently proposed, any gas-fired facility — and any facility built in the next three years — will no longer be subject to the standard in 2035, and will instead be allowed to operate above the emissions cap until “the end of the facility’s specified life.” The government has not indicated How long will this life cycle last?

Some critics say Canada’s plan for a clean electricity standard leaves too many back doors for natural gas to remain as a backup source. (Robert Jones/CBC)

The proposed standard also leaves room for some natural gas as a “reserve” for renewables – in an effort to compensate for the times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

The framework also indicates that an unlimited number of gas can remain on the network in “emergency conditions”.

“The extensions, waivers, and loopholes in these proposed regulations leave the door wide open for a massive increase in natural gas emissions in many counties,” Thomas said.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change did not respond to CBC’s request for comment at press time.

Hawaiian Energy Transmission

Hawaii may be a small island nation, but its electricity conversion has important benefits for Canada.

Just 15 years ago, nearly all of the state’s electricity came from fossil fuels. When oil prices skyrocketed after the 2008 financial crisis, the region got serious about switching to renewables. “The real driver in Hawaii was the cost of fossil fuels,” Moriwaki said.

That’s when the country set an ambitious standard for electricity, aiming to have 40 percent renewables by 2030. Seven years later in 2015, it set its 100 percent renewable target. Unlike the Canadian standard, which is based on emissions intensity, the Hawaii regulation focuses on the percentage of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal that pass through the grid..

The regulatory consequences are clear: If utilities fail to meet their renewable goals, they are forced to pay penalties that must be covered by corporate shareholders, rather than price payers. And unlike the proposed Canadian standards, all power plants in Hawaii, regardless of when they were built, will need to meet the required standards.

With nearly 40 percent renewable energy statewide, Hawaii is on track to meet its 2030 goal. (Matt Mallams/Earth Justice)

So far, the standard is working.

“We have not come close to failing on any of the goals we have set so far,” Moriwaki said. “Once you set a goal, you can turn on the tool, and we’re getting past those goals very quickly.”

With nearly 40 percent renewable energy statewide, Hawaii will soon achieve its 2030 target. One of its islands, Kauai, has just exceeded its 2040 target of having 70 percent renewables.

But to reach their 100 percent goal, there are still challenges. As one of the world’s most remote areas with a limited amount of land, decisions about where to place solar panels and wind farms will be crucial in the coming years.

In 2019, 55 people Arrested To protest a wind farm erected near the village of Kahuko.

Moriwake believes that large, utility-scale projects developed without community approval may become a relic of what he describes as a “community-based contract” in the future.

Another key tool in building community support? Distributed renewables, such as rooftop solar, now make up nearly half of Hawaii’s renewable grid.

Moriwaki suggests that uptake of solar energy on rooftops has been “a major driver in getting people to make a real leap toward conservation, but also to build a mindset that there is an alternative.”

In Hawaii, distributed solar power works like a giant battery, allowing users to store additional energy, but also Sell ​​it online At peak times, helping to balance the draw on power. This helps reduce dependence on other backups such as gas.

When people say, ‘You can’t balance the net [or] You can’t have a reliable grid with solar power”—we’re there. “We’ve already done that,” said Scott Glenn, chief energy officer for the Hawaii State Energy Office.

When Moriwake was asked to provide advice for Canada to try to build its own standard, Moriwake was straightforward.

“Just do it,” he said. “It pays itself once a goal or mandate is set. Hawaii is a perfect example of that.”