Natural Gas Does Electric Slide Into Net Zero by 2035

Olivia Petrus
Power grid and solar panels
Courtesy of Usave

Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault just dropped the mic, meaning the draft for his Clean Electricity Standard. TLDR; the grid is expected the be net zero by 2035, but not fossil fuel-free.

What happened: In a set of draft regulations unveiled on Thursday, Canada’s federal government outlined its strategy to clean up the country’s electricity, aiming for complete carbon neutrality by 2035.

  • With an abundance of hydro and nuclear, Canada’s grid is already one of the greener grids throughout developed countries.

Technology neutral: The government maintains that the regulations are flexible enough to consider various energy sources, with an emphasis on reducing emissions. While renewables and nuclear are well-aligned with the regulations, natural gas power plants will be allowed if they adhere to specific standards.

  • Using carbon capture and storage technologies, existing natural gas plants could comply if they emit 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent per gigawatt hour or less annually.

But emergencies happen: Emission capture will be waived during emergencies and peak periods when renewable sources are unable to meet the demand.

Not everyone’s loving the new rules

Skeptics argue that this approach could lead to increased costs and potential disruptions in the reliability of electricity supply.

Show me the money: Alberta’s Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz labeled the regulations as unconstitutional and unrealistic, while Saskatchewan and Nunavut have expressed their own reservations about the impact on their unique energy needs.

  • More than $400 billion will be required to meet the tougher rules, including for routine maintenance, replacing aging infrastructure, and generation expansion.

The government has already committed over $40 billion to support clean electricity over the next decade. And business and environmental groups came out earlier this week urging the government to do more through policies that guarantee carbon credit prices.

What’s next: The draft regulations enter 75-day window for provinces and territories to provide feedback before the rules are finalized. Imagine a cross-country group chat where everyone’s discussing how to turn the lights off without actually turning off the lights.