29 May 2014

Could Alberta go green?

With 50 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than Ontario, Alberta is Canada's pollution province. And that makes us think of the tar sands. But it's more than bitumen. Alberta's electrical power generation, heavily dependent on coal, produces almost as much greenhouse gas as the tar sands. The province gets 63 per cent of its electrical power from coal, burning more than the rest of the country combined. Its coal-fired power plants release about the same amount of greenhouse gases as half of all the passenger vehicles in the country.

But according to a new report entitled Power to Change by the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada, we could ditch the habit. The report claims that a major shift from coal to other sources, including solar, wind, hydropower, biomass and geothermal, could be accomplished in 20 years using current technologies. Albertans would experience only a slight price increase for electricity in the short term and lower prices thereafter. Alberta is uniquely suited for renewables, with more hours of sunshine and more reliable winds than any other province.

So, could Alberta go green? The answer, apparently, is yes, with one small bother—the tar sands, always the tar sands. With bitumen production reaching for the moon we are, I'm afraid, doomed to be Canada's pollution province for a while yet.

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