Monday, September 10, 2012

Canada releases final regulations to curtail greenhouse gas emissions from the coal-fired electricity sector - Saskatchewan seeks separate arrangement with Federal government

"If we want to make headway at reducing emissions we have to take a hard look at coal-fired plants and that's exactly what we have been doing, what we are doing, and what we will do," the Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent told a press conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan recently.

The federal government is proposing new coal plants only be allowed if they can emit less than 375 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of electricity generated. In the final version, that standard is 420 tonnes. The draft regulations proposed that old coal-fired units would have to meet the targets at 45 years old, which has been moved to 50.
 
Guy Bruce, vice-president of planning, environment and regulatory affairs for SaskPower, the crown utility in the province of Saskatchewan said the announced regulations are a "good balance." The move to 50 years allows SaskPower time to determine if carbon capture is feasible, Bruce said.
 
The Saskatchewan government is seeking a separate deal with Ottawa to handle coal in its own way, while meeting the same end goals set by the federal government. The deal is expected to account for the Boundary Dam plant, where Unit 3 is undergoing a $1.24 billion CAD conversion for carbon capture and storage by 2014. It's expected to be the first commercial scale power plant with a fully integrated carbon capture system, which should help it meet tougher emission rules.

The federal government is taking a sector-by-sector approach to reducing greenhouse gases. Instead of imposing a tax on carbon emissions, or developing a cap-and-trade market that would reward clean energy over high emissions, Ottawa is gradually imposing rules and restrictions on emissions in each polluting sector of the economy. So far, it has rolled out limits for the auto sector and renewable fuels. Coal has been the trickiest sector so far.

But the remaining sectors, especially oil and gas, are expected to be even more thorny, with Alberta's oilpatch already resisting federal attempts to regulate. Draft regulations pertaining to oil and gas are expected next year, possibly in the spring.

Canada has committed to reducing its emissions by 607 megatonnes by 2020, and Kent frequently touts his sector-by-sector approach as the main way for Canada to meet that goal.

Sources: The Star Phoenix, Canadian Press

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