Speaking at the June 27, 2022, G7 Summit in Germany, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said, “The world does not need to choose between solving the existing energy security crisis and the existing climate crisis—we have the technologies and the policies to solve both at once.”
Dr. Fatih Birol underscored that in addition to making the most of the existing energy supply, the best answer to the current energy crisis is a huge and rapid scaling up of investment in energy efficiency (electric vehicles, mobile equipment, and heat pumps), renewables, and other clean energy technologies.
In addition, energy supply chains need to be more resilient to ensure that international efforts to create a sustainable future cannot be further disrupted by the weaponization of energy as in Russia’s current weaponization of oil and gas, and China’s near-total domination of solar panel manufacturing.
The IEA report emphasized that nuclear power has a major role to play in the transition to low emissions energy systems. Ten Energy Ministers from across Europe last week wrote a joint opinion in which they argued for much stronger investment in nuclear power in Europe. According to the World Health Organization, nuclear energy is the lowest by far in terms of fatalities per billion-kilowatt hours of clean energy produced. The IEA says, “Nuclear power still faces public and political opposition in some countries, and we make no recommendations to countries that choose not to include it in their energy mix. But our conclusion is that building sustainable and clean energy systems will be harder, riskier and more expensive without nuclear”.
The emerging fleet of SMRs (Small Modular Nuclear Reactors) is being developed in some 40 engineering projects in 11 countries (including Canada) with deep and positive nuclear experience. SMRs are unique in their ability to cogenerate manageable amounts of free and clean high-temperature heat for industrial applications at the same time as they generate clean electricity to power modern heat pumps for residential and commercial heating applications. By doing so, SMRs can economically replace the 36 per cent of Canada’s fossil fuel consumption currently used for residential, commercial, and industrial heat. SMRs will be factory produced at lower cost and will be rapidly and widely deployable. The first SMR in North America will be running at the Ontario Power Generation Darlington site in 2028.
Putin’s unprovoked and brutal war on his neighbours has already raised global food prices and threatens to cause catastrophic food shortages in parts of the world. Since Canada’s Trans-Mountain Oil pipeline and Coastal Gas Link Pipeline are both expected to be completed in 2023, they can help improve the security of global energy supply chains sooner than most other possibilities, until the need for oil and natural gas can be eliminated.
The Coastal Gas Link will deliver natural gas across the 670 kilometers from Dawson Creek in northeastern BC to a facility at Kitimat where it will be liquefied and loaded on special ships for Japan and South Korea that now get large amounts of natural gas from Qatar. Gas from Qatar can then be more efficiently routed to Europe to displace insecure Russian gas. (liquefied natural gas from Qatar now travels around India and through the troubled South China Sea to get to Japan and South Korea). Coastal Gas Link could replace 5 billion cubic feet per day or 51.7 billion cubic meters per year or 60 per cent of the 85.5 billion cubic meters per year of weaponized natural gas that Germany now gets from Russia, and that is financing Putin’s senseless and brutal war.
The Trans-Mountain pipeline and the Coastal Gas Link will also enable hundreds of indigenous families to realize their longstanding dreams of being self-sufficient.
“The world does not need to choose between solving the existing energy security crisis and the existing climate crisis—we have the technologies and the policies to solve both at once.” And Canada will be instrumental in solving both crises.
Link (pdf) to 28-page G7 leader’s communique.
Hugh Holland is a retired engineering and manufacturing executive now living in Huntsville, Ontario.
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