To say this past year was a turbulent one in the world of energy would be an understatement. We saw how the world can change in one day due to the declaration of war, and we felt the ripple effects almost immediately in our wallets. The term ‘energy security’ became everyday language and rose to the top of many governments’ priority list.
The federal government has been busy developing policies to guide the net-zero transition for the electricity system and utilities, for light-duty vehicles and home heating, and for heavy industry. These policies share the goal of ensuring Canada is doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to curb the effects of climate change.
Atlantic Canadians are paying attention.
Many Atlantic Canadians were likely tuned into the price of gasoline, diesel and home heating oil to plan their spending around the various news source weekly price predictions. We were either thankful when the interrupter clause was enacted to drop the price or kicked ourselves because we filled up the day before.
During the latter half of 2022, Atlantic Canadians became acutely aware of the concept of hydrogen and off-shore wind. Though, many don’t yet understand how or when either technologies will help us achieve our net-zero ambitions.
This year, new energy-related topics rose to the top of our news feeds igniting a more informed or debated conversation.
Review of key topics
As an observer of the energy industry, the Atlantica Centre for Energy weighed in on several key topics in 2022 including:
The mandate for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia utilities to remove coal from electricity generation by 2030 is a top concern because it does not yet come with a simple or affordable solution.
The potential of new technology such as Small Modular Reactors and hydrogen to help achieve our climate objectives is just an exciting prospect without government leadership on policy and action on a regulatory system that enables clear and certain investment environment.
The feasibility of adding liquefaction facilities in the region for the export LNG is still being debated, to help ease Europe’s energy crisis and as an economic development opportunity here at home.
The forecast for electricity supply, demand and cost to reach net zero was researched thoroughly this year, only to conclude a lack of information within governments and the public, which is needed to make important decisions.
Decarbonizing industry is key to reducing our GHG emissions, and enabling conditions such as a predictable and timely regulatory environment, absent of government interference, can help incentivize and de-risk private sector investments.
Calls to action for government
All these issues, and more, had several key underlying impediments. First of all, government alignment between and among the provinces and the federal government does not exist, yet. We understand important conversations are happening, such as with the potential Atlantic Loop project, but there is still a disconnect on overall objectives and who will pay the associated costs.
Perhaps, some of the reasons for misalignment is a severe lack of quality, regional specific data and ultimately a strategic direction. Without these we won’t be ready to tackle the herculean challenges ahead of us. We will only achieve our climate objectives with well-informed public buy-in on much of the energy transition. There are massive opportunities ahead of us and without that buy-in we won’t get social licence to develop new sources of energy, create jobs, integrate new technologies, and ultimately reduce emissions.
As we reflect on the past year, the Centre has one challenge for 2023.
We call on the Atlantic Canadian Premiers to continue proactive discussions, to develop clear priorities, and to communicate with the public and the federal government under a united voice. Only strong and cohesive leadership will enable a cost-effective and beneficial clean energy transition for our region. We are each too small, to do it on our own.