How Canada's geothermal sector pulled off a world-first, why G.M. has done a U-turn on pollution, and CO2's troubling new record


Canada’s energy future

The Canadian Energy Regulator has released its new report projecting Canada’s future energy demand. Spoiler alert: it suggests fossil fuel consumption could have already peaked.

The modelled scenario—which assumes the world continues along its current trajectory of strengthening climate policies and increasingly cheap, low-carbon technologies—sees oil and gas consumption decrease by 35% by 2050, while renewables and nuclear grow 31%.

The report notes that, under the modelled circumstances, neither the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion nor the new Keystone XL pipeline would be needed. Add on an incoming U.S. administration with a limited appetite for fossil fuel imports (Biden said previously he would cancel Keystone if elected), it’s another reminder that we need to be investing in a clean-energy-oriented economy if we’re going to stay ahead of the curve.

Biden appoints climate-minded colleagues

President-elect Biden’s picks for top White House positions leave little doubt that he intends to make climate a key pillar of his time in power. John Kerry (who helped broker the Paris agreement) was selected to be a special presidential envoy for climate while Janet Yellen (who has been leading international efforts to cut emissions) will be the U.S. treasury secretary. As this Toronto Star op-ed points out, it's tempting to compare Yellen to Canada’s finance Minister Chyrstia Freeland. Except that Yellen “also comes with some solid climate change credentials that Freeland and her government are only beginning to lay claim to.”

A win for Canadian geothermal

Canada’s oil and gas sector has merged skill sets with the clean energy sector to bring about a world-first. Saskatoon-based geothermal company DEEP successfully drilled the world’s first horizontal well for geothermal power at its site in Saskatchewan—taking it a step closer to producing clean electricity. 

A target needs a plan

Last week, Canada’s federal government enshrined its emissions targets into law. But while we now know the government must meet its climate targets, we’re awaiting details about how exactly it will do it. In the meantime, this explainer from the director of the energy and environmental policy institute at Queen's University, offers some food for thought on what the new law could mean.

Your next series to stream

If lockdown 2.0 has brought on a bout of Netflix fatigue, then why not try this new interview series from Canada’s Clean50 that “explores the policy options for Canada that can drive remarkable economic opportunities in a low-carbon economy.” There are currently six discussions to choose from, featuring a selection of Canada’s brightest clean energy brains.

General Motors takes a new road

Anyone following the U.S.’s turbulent relationship with EVs had better buckle up after General Motors announced plans “to move even faster to expedite the transition to EVs,” including US$27 billion of funding to make 40% of its cars electric by 2025. The company has also done a U-turn on vehicle emission regulations, saying it will no longer support the rollbacks introduced by President Trump and will instead align itself with President-elect Biden’s plans to make cars less polluting.

A battery equation

What do you get when you combine a 2050 climate target, a coronavirus recovery fund, and a commitment to grow “green industries?" Answer: The EU is building 15 battery cell factories across the continent, aiming to supply every battery needed for its growing fleet of EVs by 2025.

Volkswagen victories

Volkswagen’s ID 3 (the best-selling electric car in Europe last month) is set to get a smaller, cheaper sibling. Volkwagen’s engineers have said they hope to release a new EV that will be around the size of a VW Polo and cost US$24,000-30,000. Not content with just being a carmaker, Volkswagen is also launching a project with Bosch that will assess how plugged-in EVs could supply balancing power to electricity markets—essentially allowing electric cars to give back to the grid at times of need.

A sea change

Meeting a 2050 net-zero target is going to take an all-sector approach. According to a new op-ed in the Toronto Star, making the right investments in Canada’s maritime industry is essential for both cutting pollution and positioning future clean energy exports like hydrogen: “Canadian companies like Ballard, Corvus, Hydrogenics and others are leading the clean shipping revolution that is happening in other countries. It is time for Canada unlock the potential.”

COVID carbon cuts a ‘tiny blip’

Climate-heating gases have reached record levels in the atmosphere, despite a small pandemic-induced CO2 slowdown, which the UN’s World Meteorological Organization described as nothing more than a “tiny blip.” Despite more countries rolling out plans to cut emissions, the data shows action “is currently far from what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency.”

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IMAGE & MEDIA CREDITS: The Globe and Mail
Clean Energy Review is a weekly digest of climate and clean energy news and insight from across Canada and around the world.

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