Tendance vers les éoliennes
Même s'ils sont économiques, les améliorations significatives dans
le domaine de l'efficacité énergétique ne surviennent pas spontanément.
Si notre société décide qu'elle souhaite prendre avantage des
bénéfices sociaux et environnementaux qu'apporte l'efficacité
énergétique, le gouvernement doit alors s'assurer que les opportunités
institutionnelles d'exploiter les potentiels de gains énergétiques dans
tous les secteurs de l'économie sont effectivement harnachées.
(photo of author David Coon,
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
turbines are nice. Solar is cool. But if you think they are going to
have a meaningful impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, think
You can take it from this old fool.
Solarized but energy efficient
(photo: Pollution Probe Foundation)
Going on a quarter of a century ago, the first time serious
consideration was given to pursuing a sustainable energy path, a merry
band of youth created Ecology House in the heart of Canada's largest
city - Toronto. A Victorian house, just a stone's throw away from
Bloor and Spadina, was transformed into an urban demonstration of
conservation under the auspices of the Pollution Probe Foundation.
Spawned by opposition to nuclear power and the advocacy of an
environmentally sustainable energy future, the idea was to demonstrate
what kinds of things would need to be done at the level of the
household to be consistent with such a sustainable energy future.
First appearances were deceiving. The entire south wall of the
three-story brick house was covered with glass to provide passive
solar heat to the building. However, despite its "Trombe
Wall" on the outside, the inside was devoted to demonstrating how
to make an urban house energy efficient. This was done. The energy use
in the building was cut by 85 percent through upgrading insulation,
retrofitting windows, reducing drafts and installing a high efficiency
furnace. It was caulking, polyethylene, insulation and thermopanes
that were the key, not renewable energy systems. The Trombe Wall
demonstrated the principles of passive solar design and supplemented
the building's heat supply (winter and summer!), but its most
effective function was to attract tens of thousands of people to visit
Ecology House who then--it was hoped--would take action to make their
own homes more energy efficient.
My point is this. No meaningful impact will be made on reducing
greenhouse gas emissions unless we shrink our energy demand by making
significant improvements in the energy efficiency of our economy and
society. This is a far more important strategy than the development of
renewable energy sources.
Okay, it's not just my point. Canada's sustainable energy analyst
extraordinaire, Ralph Torrie, has been working hard to analyse how
Canada and New Brunswick can significantly reduce their greenhouse gas
emissions while phasing out nuclear power and coal and oil-fired
(Orimulsion in New Brunswick's case) electricity generation.
Mr. Torrie's consulting firm, Torrie Smith and Associates, has
carried out the only analysis in Canada that looks at how we can
actually achieve our Kyoto target and the much deeper reductions that
will be required to halt the growing upheaval in the global climate
system. This was done for the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian
Climate Action Network.
(source: David Suzuki Foundation)
Torrie Smith looked at what we would need to do to achieve a 50
percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 without nuclear
power or coal and oil-fired electricity generation, assuming we
continue according to current projections for economic and population
growth in Canada. More detailed analyses were also done on New
Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario for the Canadian Nuclear Phaseout
So what does a low emission non-nuclear future look like? While
wind, solar, biomass, microhydro and tidal energy technologies play a
role, in the Torrie Smith scenario they actually account for only 16
percent of new sources of electricity supply for Canada by 2030. It is
improvements in energy efficiency, both in terms of electricity use
and electricity production through new gas-fired cogeneration that
supplies 84 percent of new sources of electricity.
By shrinking the demand for electricity from large central power
plants through energy efficiency and cogeneration from industrial and
commercial consumers, existing hydro resources in New Brunswick could
supply 37 percent of the power to the electrical grid, natural gas 18
percent, new renewables 18 percent and purchases of existing
hydroelectricity from Labrador or Quebec 27 percent.
How does the future
end up looking something like this scenario? How could you actually
achieve the necessary efficiencies in space and water heating,
appliance use, lighting, office equipment, fans, pumps and blowers?
Let's look at the residential sector. Wherever it is cost-effective
to do so, every home in New Brunswick would have to be retrofitted
with higher levels of insulation, high efficiency doors and windows
and air sealed to higher levels over the next 20 years. All new
buildings would have to be constructed with the highest possible
levels of insulation and fitted with the most efficient doors and
windows currently on the market.
How could this be achieved? Television commercials suggesting
people retrofit their homes would not do the trick.
There would need to be some kind of institutionalized effort to
drive the retrofits, much like NB Power's effort to drive households
to convert to electric heating in the 1980's. One approach would be to
establish an energy efficiency utility whose objective would be to
motivate households to retrofit their homes. They would provide energy
audits, technical advice, planning, incentives, loans, and so on.
North America's first energy efficiency utility has been operating in
Vermont for three years.
(image: OEE US)
Still, this would likely be insufficient. Ralph Torrie makes an
intriguing suggestion. All buildings could be required to have an
energy efficiency audit whenever they are bought or sold. If they did
not meet a minimum standard of efficiency, the new owners would be
given a list of energy efficiency improvements they could make, along
with an option to use a financing scheme that would pay for the
retrofit through the energy savings achieved.
Significant improvements in energy efficiency do not happen by
themselves, even though they are economic. If as a society we want the
substantial social and environmental benefits energy efficiency
brings, then government must ensure that the institutional capacity
exists to exploit the energy efficiency potential that exists in every
sector of our economy.
For more information about the nuclear-free low emissions energy
future that Torrie, Smith and Associates have analysed, you can
download their report, "Kyoto and Beyond: The Low Emission
Path to Innovation and Efficiency," published by the Canadian
Climate Action Network and the David Suzuki Foundation, October 2002
www.davidsuzuki.org, or www.web.ca/~ccnb.